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3 3333 08822 3264 

909.0^92 GRAETZ 

Y 0? TFE JEV:S. 

A2135 1 +1 





523 * 


VOL. I. 

THE MACCABEE (135 B. C. E.). 








Owing to necessary revision by the American 
editors, there has been a delay in the publication 
of this work beyond the time announced for its 

It is hoped that in the future such delay may be 



June, 1891. 


IT is a matter of especial satisfaction to me that my 
work, " The History of the Jews, from the Earliest 
Times to the Present Day," should be rendered 
accessible to the English-reading public in a com- 
pact form and by means of an adequate translation ; 
for in countries where English is spoken, books are 
not only bought, bound, and placed in libraries, but 
are also read, taken to heart, and acted upon. It is 
therefore to be expected that the English-speaking 
people, which has never disregarded but has at all 
times recognised and appreciated the peculiar char- 
acter of the Jewish race, will feel an increased 
sympathy for it, on reading the alternations of its 
sublime and tragical history. 

English readers, to whom the forefathers of the 
Jews of to-day the patriarchs, heroes, and men of 
God are familiar characters, will the better under- 
stand the miracle which is exhibited in the history 
of the Jews during three thousand years. The con- 
tinuance of the Jewish race until the present day is a 
marvel not to be overlooked even by those who deny 
the existence of miracles, and who only see in the 
most astounding events, both natural and preter- 
natural, the logical results of cause and effect. Here 
we observe a phenomenon, which has developed and 


asserted itself in spite of all laws of nature, and we 
behold a culture which, notwithstanding unspeakable 
hostility against its exponents, has nevertheless pro- 
foundly modified the organism of nations. 

J O 

It is the heartfelt aspiration of the author that this 
historical work, in its English garb, may attain its 
object by putting an end to the hostile bearing against 
the Jewish race, so that it mav no lono-er be be- 

J * o 

grudged the peculiar sphere whereto it has been 
predestined through the events and sorrows of thous- 
ands of years, and that it may be permitted to fulfil 
its appointed mission without molestation. 

This translation, in five volumes, is not a mere 
excerpt of my " Geschichte der Juden " (like my 
Yolksthumliche Geschichte der Juden"), but a con- 
densed reproduction of the entire eleven volumes. 
But the foot-notes have been omitted, so as to render 
the present work less voluminous for the general 
reader. Historical students are usually acquainted 
with the German language, and can read the notes 
in the original. 

In this English edition the " History of the Present 
Day' 1 is brought down to 1870, whilst the original 
onlv gfoes as far as the memorable events of 1848. 

* o 

The last volume will contain a survev of the entire 


history of the Jewish nation, together with a compre- 
hensive index of names and events. 

In conclusion, I cannot refrain from expressing my 
gratitude to one whose life-task it is to further with 
rare generosity all humane and intellectual interests, 
and who has caused this translation to be made and 


published. At the risk of wounding his modesty, I 
must mention, as the Maecenas of this work, Mr. 
Frederick D. Mocatta, whose name is a household 
word in every Jewish circle. 


BRESLAU, January, 1891. 

To the foregoing words of the author I merely 
wish to add, that while the first volume, as far as 
the period of the Hasmonaeans, has been translated 
by me, the other volumes have for the greater part 
" been done into English by various hands," and have 
afterwards been revised and edited by me. 

My cordial thanks are due to Mr. Israel Abrahams, 
whose scholarly co-operation has enabled me to cope 
with the difficulties presented by Hebrew and Jewish 
names and technicalities. 


LONDON, January, 1891. 




The Original Inhabitants of Canaan Gigantic Anakim and 
Rephaim The Phoenicians Israel's Claim to Canaan 
The Patriarchs Hereditary Law Emigration to Egypt 
Tribal Union Bright and Dark Sides of the Egyptians 
-Moses, Aaron and Miriam The Prophetic Sage Call of 
Moses as Deliverer Opposition Exodus from Egypt 
Passage of the Red Sea Wandering in the Desert Reve- 
lation on Mount Sinai The Decalogue Relapse Conces- 
sions Crisis Circuitous Wanderings Victories over Popu- 
lations of Canaan on Trans-Jordanic Side Commencements 
of Hebrew Poetry Death of Moses page i 



Joshua's Succession Passage of the Jordan Conquest of 
Jericho The Gibeonites Coalition of Canaanite Cities 
against the Israelites Settlement in the Land Isolation of 
the Tribes Allotments The Tribe of Levi The Ark of 
the Covenant at Shiloh Condition of Canaan at the time of 
the Conquest Climate and Fertility Intellectual Activity 
Poetry of Nature Remnants of Canaanite Populations 
Death of Joshua page 32 



The Phoenicians, Aramaeans, Philistines, Idumaeans Their Cus- 
toms and Mythology The Moabites and Ammonites 
Intercourse of the Israelites with their Neighbours and 
Adoption of their Manners Disintegration of the Tribes- 
Consequent Weakness Temporary Deliverers . page 53 



Animosity of the Idumaeans Othniel, a Deliverer Eglon, 
King of Moab The Canaanite King, Jabin Sisera, his 
General The Prophetess and Poetess Deborah Barak 
Victory near Tabor Early Hebrew Poetry Sufferings 


through Nomads The Hero Gideon v jerubbaal) Victory 
in the Plain of Jezreel Commencement of Prosperity 
Abimelech Feud with the Shechemites Jair the Gileadite 
Hostilities of the Amalekites and the Philistines Jephthah 
Samson Zebulunite Judges page 60 



Importance of the Judges Public Feeling Sanctuary in Shiloh 
-Eli and his Sons Defeat by the Philistines Capture of 
the Ark Destruction of Shiloh and the Sanctuary Flight 
of the Aaronites and Levites Death of Eli The Ark in 
Philistia and in Kirjath Jearim Prophecy re-awakened 
Samuel in Ramah The Order of Prophets or Singers 
Popular revulsion The tribe of Judah Repeated attacks 
of the Philistines Meeting at Mizpah Samuel's activity 
Nob as a place of Worship Increase in the power of the 
Philistines and Ammonites The Tribes desire to have a 
King Samuel's course of action page 68 

noo ? 1067 B. c. E. 


Establishment of a Kingdom Saul His Position and Charac- 
ter His secret Election at Mizpah Humiliating Condition 
of the Nation under the Philistines Declaration of War 
Assemblage in Gilgal Battle of Michmash Defeat of the 
Philistines Severity of Saul Victory over the Ammonites- 
Saul's Election as King confirmed His Court and Attend- 
ants His Officers and Standing Army Victory over the 
Amalekites Disputes between Saul and Samuel Saul's 
Attacks on the neighbouring People War with the Gibeon- 
ites Place of Worship in Gibeon War against the Philis- 
tines in the Valley of Tamarinths Goliath and David 
Meeting of Saul and David Saul's Jealousy turns into 
Madness The Persecution of David Saul's last Battle 
against the Philistines Defeat and Death . . . page 82 

1067 1055 B. c. E. 


Burning of Ziklag Defeat of the Amalekites Judah elects 
David as King Abner and Ishbosheth War between the 
houses of Saul and David Murder of Abner Death of 
Ishbosheth David recognised as sole King Capture of 


Zion Fortification of Jerusalem War with the Philistines 
-Victory of David The Heroes Alliance with Hiram 
Removal of the Ark of the Sanctuary to Jerusalem The 
High-Priest Choral Services of the Temple Internal 
Government of Israel The Gibeonites and Rizpah Me- 

phibosheth page 106 

10551035 B. c. E. 



War with the Moabites Insult offered by the King of the 
Ammonites War with the Ammonites Their Defeat 
Battle of Helam Attack of Hadadezer Defeat of the 
Aramaeans Acquisition of Damascus War with the Idu- 
maeans Conquest of the town of Rabbah Defeat of the 
Idumaeans Conquered races obliged to pay tribute Bath- 
sheba Death of Uriah the Hittite Parable of Nathan- 
Birth of Solomon (1033) Misfortunes of David Absalom 
Wise Woman of Tekoah Reconciliation of David and 
Absalom Numbering of the Troops Pestilence breaks out 
in Israel Absalom's Rebellion Murder of Amasa Sheba's 
Insurrection David and Nathan Adonijah . . page 125 

I0 35 1015 B. c. E. 


The new King's Rule Solomon's Choice Poetic Allegory 
Murder of Adonijah and Joab The Court Alliance with 
Egypt Tyre Solomon's Buildings The Plan of the 
Temple The Workmen The Materials Description of 
the Temple The Ceremony of Consecration Reorganisa- 
tion of the Priesthood The King's Palace The throne 
-Increase of National Wealth The Fleet The Seeds of 
Disunion Jeroboam Idolatry permitted Estrangement 
from Egypt Growth of surrounding Kingdoms Solomon's 

Fame His Death page 156 

1015 977 B. c. E. 



Accession of Rehoboam Jeroboam's return The King at 
Shechem The Secession of the Ten Tribes Election of 
Jeroboam New Alliances Rezon and Shishak Fortifica- 
tion of Shechem Jeroboam's Idolatry Ahijah's rebuke- 
Religion in Judah Abijam Asa Nadab Baasha Wars 


between Asa and Baasha Defeat of Zerah Benhadad 
Elah Zimri Omri Civil war Samaria built Omri's 
policy Alliances with Ethbaal and Tyre Ahab : his char- 
acter Jezebel The Priests of Baal Elijah Naboth's vine- 
yard Elijah at Carmel War with Benhadad Death of 
Ahab and Jehoshaphat Ahaziah's Accession Jehoram 
Elijah and Elisha Jehu Death of Jezebel . . page 179 

977 887 B. c. E. 


Athaliah's rule Early years of Joash Proclamation of Joash 
by Jehoiada Athaliah slain Religious Revival Elisha 
Repairing of the Temple Death of Jehoiada and of his Son 
-Invasion of Israel by Hazael Jehoahaz Murder of Joash, 
King of Judah Jehoash, King of Israel Defeat of the 
Aramaeans Amaziah Conquest of Edom Death of Elisha 
Amaziah defeated by Jehoash Jeroboam II. Death of 
Amaziah page 213 

887 805 B. c. E. 


Condition of Judah The Earthquake and the Famine Uzziah's 
Rule Overthrow of Neighbouring Powers Fortification of 
Jerusalem Navigation of the Red Sea Jeroboam's Pros- 
perity The Sons of the Prophets Amos Prophetic Elo- 
quence Joel's Prophecies Hosea foretells Ultimate Peace 
Denunciation of Uzziah Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem 
Last Years of Uzziah Contest between the King and the 
High Priest Uzziah usurps the Priestly Functions 
Uzziah's Illness page 228 

805 758 B. c. E. 




King Menahem The Babylonians and the Assyrians Pekah 
Jotham's reign Isaiah of Jerusalem His style and influ- 
ence His first public address Later speeches Their im- 
mediate and permanent effect His disciples Their charac- 
teristics Zechariah His prophecies .... page 246 

758740 B. c. E. 






The Reign of Ahaz His Character Alliance between Pekah 
and Rezin Tiglath-Pileser and Assyria Ahaz seeks Assy- 
rian Aid Isaiah's Opposition Defeat of Pekah and Rezin 
Introduction of Assyrian Worship Human Sacrifices 
The Second Micah Samaria after Pekah's Death Assyria 
and Egypt Hoshea Samaria taken by Shalmaneser The 
Exile Hezekiah His Early Measures His Weakness of 
Character Isaiah's Efforts to Restrain Hezekiah from War 
with Assyria Arrangements for the Defence Change of 
Policy Isaiah Predicts the Deliverance Micah Rabsha- 
keh's Embassy Hezekiah's Defiance His Illness and Re- 
covery The Destruction of Sennacherib's Army Mero- 
dach-baladan Hezekiah's Rule The Psalmists Death of 
Hezekiah page 257 

739 696 B. c. E. 



Manasseh Fanatical Hatred of Hezekiah's Policy Assyrian 
Worship Introduced The Anavim Persecution of the 
Prophets Esarhaddon The Colonisation of Samaria 
Amon Josiah Huldah and Zephaniah Affairs in As- 
syria Regeneration of Judah under Josiah Repairing of 
the Temple Jeremiah The Book of Deuteronomy Jo- 
siah's Passover Battle at Megiddo .... page 281 

695 608 B. c. E. 



Effects of Josiah's Foreign Policy Jehoahaz Jehoiakim 
Egyptian Idolatry introduced The Prophets Uriah the 
Son of Shemaiah Jeremiah's renewed Labours Fall of 
Assyria Nebuchadnezzar Baruch reads Jeremiah's Scroll 
Submission of Jehoiakim His Rebellion and Death 
Jehoiachin Zedekiah Siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchad- 
nezzar The Siege raised owing to the Intervention of 
Egypt Defeat of the Egyptians Renewal of the Siege 
Capture of Jerusalem Zedekiah in Babylon Destruction 
of the Capital Jeremiah's Lamentations . . . page 298 

608586 B. c. E. 




The National Decay The Fugitives Enmity of the Idu- 
masans Johanan, Son of Kareah The Lamentation Neb- 
uchadnezzar appoints Gedaliah as Governor Jeremiah 
Encourages the People Mizpah Ishmael Murders Geda- 
liah The Flight to Egypt Jeremiah's Counsel Disre- 
farded Depopulation of Judah The Idumaeans make 
ettlements in the Country Obadiah Condition of the 
Judaeans in Egypt Defeat of Hophra Egypt under Amasis 

Jeremiah's Last Days page 317 

586 572 B. c. E. 



Nebuchadnezzar's treatment of the Exiles The Exiles obtain 
grants of land Evil-Merodach favours Jehoiachin Number 
of the Judaean Exiles Ezekiel's captivity in the first period 
of the Exile Moral change of the People Baruch collects 
Jeremiah's Prophecies and compiles the Histories The 
Mourners of Zion Proselytes The Pious and the Worldly 
The Poetry of the Time Psalms and Book of Job 
Nabonad's Persecutions The Martyrs and the Prophets 
of the Exile The Babylonian Isaiah Cyrus captures 
Babylon The Return under Zerubbabel . . page 329 

572537 B. c. E. 


The Journey to Jerusalem The Samaritans Commencement 
of the Rebuilding of the Temple Interruption of the 
Work Darius Haggai and Zechariah Completion of the 
Temple Contest between Zerubbabel and Joshua Inter- 
marriage with Heathens The Judaeans in Babylonia Ezra 
visits Jerusalem Dissolution of the Heathen Marriages 
The Book of Ruth Attacks by Sanballat Nehemiah His 
Arrival in Jerusalem Fortification of the Capital Sanbal- 
lat's Intrigues against Nehemiah Enslavement of the Poor 
Nehemiah's Protest Repopulation of the Capital The 
Genealogies The Reading of the Law The Feast of Tab- 
ernacles The Great Assembly The Consecration De- 
parture of Nehemiah Action of Eliashib Withholding the 
Tithes Malachi, the Last of the Prophets Nehemiah's 
Second Visit to Jerusalem His measures . . page 354 
537420 B. c. E. 




Enmity of the Samaritans against the Judaeans The Temple 
on Mount Gerizim The High-Priest Manasseh The mixed 
language of the Samaritans Their veneration for the Law 
of Moses Judaism loses its national meaning The Jubilee 
and Sabbatical Year Almsgiving The Council of Seventy 
The Assyrian Characters The Schools and the Sopherim 
-Observance of the Ceremonies '1 he Prayers The Fu- 
ture Life The Judaeans under Artaxerxes II. and III. 
Their Banishment to the Caspian Sea Jochanan and Joshua 
contend for the office of High-Priest Bagoas The Writ- 
ings of the Period The Greeks and Macedonians Alex- 
ander the Great and the Judaeans Judaea accounted a 
Province of Ccelesyria Struggles between Alexander's 
Successors Capture of Jerusalem by Ptolemy Judaea 
added to the Lagidean-Egyptian Kingdom The Jndaean 
Colonies in Egypt and Syria and the Greek Colonies in 
Palestine Page 389 

420 300 B. c. E. 


Condition of the Judaeans under the Ptolemies Simon effects 
Improvements His Praises are sung by Sirach His Doc- 
trines TheChasidim and the Nazarites Simon's Children 
Onias II. and the Revolt against Egypt Joseph, Son of 
Tobias His Embassy to Alexandria He is appointed Tax- 
collector War between Antiochus the Great and Egypt- 
Defeat of Antiochus Spread of Greek Manners in Judaea 
Hyrcanus The Song of Songs Simon II. Scopas de- 
spoils Jerusalem The Contest between Antiochus and Rome 
Continued Hellenisation of the Judaeans The Chasidim 
and the Hellenists Jos6 ben Joezer and Jose ben Johanan 
Onias III. and Simon Heliodorus Sirach's Book of 
Proverbs against the Errors of his Time . . . page 420 

300175 B. c. E. 



Antiochus Epiphanes His Character His Wars with Rome 

-He appoints Jason to the High-Priesthood Introduction 

of the Greek Games Jason sends Envoys to Tyre to take 


part in the Olympian Games Affairs in Jerusalem Anti- 
ochus invades Egypt Report of his Death in Jerusalem 
Antiochus attacks the City and defiles the Temple His 
Designs against Judaism His Second Invasion of Egypt 
The Persecution of the Judaeans The Martyrs Mattathias 
and his five Sons Apelles appears in Modin The Chasi- 
dim Death of Mattathias and Appointment of Judas Mac- 
cabaeus as Leader His Virtues Battles against Apollonius 
and Heron Antiochus determines to Exterminate the Ju- 
daean People Composition and Object of the Book of 
Daniel Victory of Judas over Lysias .... page 442 

175 1 66 B. c. E. 



Return of Judas to Jerusalem Reconsecration of the Temple 
The Feast of Lights Fortification of the Capital The 
Idumasans and Ammonites defeated by Judas Ill-treatment 
of the Galilean Judaeans Measures against Timotheus 
Death of Antiochus Embassy of the Hellenists to Anti- 
ochus V. Battle at Bethzur Retreat of Judas Affairs in 
Jerusalem Alcimus Intervention of the Romans Nica- 
nor's Interview with Judas Battle of Adarsa Death of 
Judas Results of his Career Condition of the People after 
the Death of Judas The Chasidim, the Hellenists, and the 
Hasmonaeans Jonathan His Guerilla Warfare against 
Bacchides Death of the High-Priest Alcimus Truce 
between Jonathan and Bacchides Jonathan as High-Priest 
His far-sighted Policy His Captivity and his Death. 

page ^ i 

165 143 B. C. E. 




The Judaean Colonies in Egypt and Cyrene Internal Affairs of 
the Alexandrian Community King Philometor favours the 
Judaeans Onias and Dositheus The Temple of Onias 
Translation of the Pentateuch into Greek Struggle between 
the Judaeans and Samaritans in Alexandria Affairs in 
Judaea Independence of Judaea Simon's League with the 
Romans Overthrow of the Acra and of the Hellenists- 
Simon's Coinage Quarrel between Simon and the Syrian 
King Invasion by Cendebaeus Assassination of Simon. 

page 503 
160 135 B. c. E. 




The Original Inhabitants of Canaan Gigantic Anakim and Rephaim 
The Phoenicians Israel's Claim to Canaan The Patriarchs 
Hereditary Law Emigration to Egypt Tribal Union Bright 
and Dark Sides of the Egyptians Moses, Aaron and Miriam 
The Prophetic Sage Call of Moses as Deliverer Oppo- 
sition Exodus from Egypt Passage of the Red Sea Wan- 
derings in the Desert Revelation on Mount Sinai The 
Decalogue Relapse Concessions Crisis Circuitous Wander- 
ings Victories over Populations of Canaan, on Trans-Jordanic 
Side Commencements of Hebrew Poetry Death of Moses. 

IT was on a spring day that some (pastoral /tribes 
passed across the Jordan into a strip of land which 
can only be regarded as an extended coast-line of 
the Mediterranean. This was the land of Canaan, 
/subsequently called Palestine. The crossing of the 
Jordan and the entry into this Aerritory were /des- 
tined to become of the /utmost importance to man- 
kind. The land of which the /shepherd tribes 
possessed themselves became the/arena of great 
events, so /enduring and important in their results, 
that the country in which they took place became 
known as the Holy Land. Distant nations had 
no /conception that the entry of the Hebrew or 
Israelite tribes into the land of Canaan would 
have such /momentous consequences. Even the 
inhabitants of Palestine were far from recognising 
in this ^invasion an /occurrence /fraught with/ vital 
significance to themselves. 


At the time when the Hebrews occupied this 
territory it was inhabited by tribes and peoples dis- 
similar in/descent and /pursuits The /primary place 
was held by the /aborigines, the Anakim and Re- 
phaim, a powerful race of giants. Tradition repre- 
sents them as the descendants of that unruly and 
/overbearing race which, in primaeval times, yat- 
tempted to storm the heavens. For this rebellious 
attempt they had been 'doomed to 'ignominious 

Their/reputed descendants, the powerful /natives 
of the country who by some of the ancient nations 
were called Emim, "terrible men" were unable 
to 'maintain themselves; notwithstanding their im- 
posing figures, they were destroyed by races of 
inferior 'stature. The rest were /obliged to/migrate 
to the East-Jordanic lands, to the south, and also 
to the south-west of the West -Jordanic /region. 
This/remnant of the Anakim filled the Israelite 
spies with such abject /terror that they made the 
entire nation despair of ever obtaining possession of 
the country. This gave rise to the proverb, "Who 
can stand before the children of Anak?" "We 
were," said the spies, " in our own eyes as grass- 
hoppers, and so we appeared unto them." These 
giants were eventually /overcome by the Israelite 

Another group of inhabitants which had settled 
in the land between the Mediterranean and the 
Jordan was that of the Canaanites, whom the 
Greeks called Phoenicians. These Phoenicians ap- 
pear to have pursued the same employment in their 
new country as they had followed on the /banks of 
the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf. Their chief pur- 
suits were /navigation and -'commerce. The position 
which they had selected was eminently favourable 
to their daring expeditions. The great ocean, 
forming a strait at the Pillars of Hercules, and 
separating Europe from Africa, as the Mediterra- 


nean Sea, has here its extreme limit. At the foot of 
the snow-topped Lebanon and its 'spurs, commodious 

[inlets formed natural harbours that/ required but little 
improvement at the hand of man. On this ^seaboard 
the Canaanites built the town of Sidon, /situated on a 

/prominent crag which /overhangs the sea. They 
afterwards built, on a small rocky island, the port of 
Tyre (Tor, which subsequently became celebrated); 
they also built Aradus to the north of Sidon, and 
Akko (Acre) to the south of Tyre. The neighbouring 
forests of the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon sup- 
plied them with /lofty /cedars and strong /cypresses 
for ships. The Canaanites, who became the first 

/mercantile nation in the world, owed much of their 
success to the advantage of finding on their coast 
various species of the /murex (Tolaat shani], from 
the fluid of which was obtained a most brilliant 
and widely celebrated purple dye. The beautiful 
white sand of the river Belus, near Acre, supplied 
fine glass, an article which was likewise in much 
request in the Old World. The wealth of the 
country lay in the sands of the sea-shore. The 
Canaanites, on account of their 'extensive / trade, 
required and introduced at an early period a /conve- 
nient form of writing, and their alphabet, the Phoeni- 
cian, became the model for the alphabets of ancient 
and modern nations. In a word, the narrow belt of 
land between the Mediterranean and Mount Leb- 
anon, with its spurs, became one of the most impor- 
tant points On the face of the globe. Through the 
peaceful pursuits of commerce the Canaanites were 
brought into /contact with remote nations, who 
were /gradually aroused from a state of inactivity. 
They became 'subdivided into the small national- 
ities of Amorites, Hittites, Hivites, and Perizzites. 
The Jebusites, who inhabited this district, were of 
minor importance ; they dwelt on the tract of land 
which afterwards became the site for the city of 
Jerusalem. Of still less account were the Girga- 


shites, who had no ''fixed residence. All these names 
would have remained unknown had not the Israelites 
entered the land. 

But this people had not taken a footing in the 
country with the mere/object of finding pasture land 
for their 'flocks; their pretensions were far greater. 
Chief of all, they claimed as their patrimony the land 
where the graves of their forefathers were 'situated. 
The first patriarch, Abraham, who had 'emigrated 
from Aram, on the borders of the Euphrates, had, 
after many wanderings through the country, ac- 
quired in Hebron, as an hereditary burial-place, the 
Cave of Machpelah, or the "Double Cave," together 
with the adjoining field and trees. There his wife 
Sarah had been interred, then he himself, and after 
him his son, the patriarch Isaac. 

The third patriarch, Jacob, after many vicissitudes 
and wanderings, had purchased a plot of land near 
Shechem, and had taken that important city " with 
his sword and with his bow." The city was in the 
very heart of the territory of the Hivites, and its cap- 
ture had taken place in consequence of a breach of 
peace, through the abduction and dishonour of Jacob's 
daughter. The land was henceforth regarded as the 
property of the patriarch, and he only reluctantly 
'quitted it at the outbreak of a famine, in order to 
proceed to Egypt, where corn was plentiful. On his 
death-bed, Jacob impressed upon his sons that they 
should deposit his remains in the family tomb of the 
" Double Cave." Not alone did Canaan contain the 
graves of the three patriarchs, but also the altars 
which they had erected and named in various places, 
in honour of the Deity whom they worshipped. The 
Israelites were therefore firmly convinced that they 
had a right to the exclusive possession of the land. 

These claims derived further strength from the 
tradition left by the patriarchs to their descendants 
as a sacred bequest, that the Deity, whom they had 
been the first to recognise, had repeatedly and indu- 


bitably, though only in visions, promised them this 
land as their possession, not merely for the sake 
of showing them favour, but as the means of 
attaining to a higher degree of culture. This culture 
would pre-eminently consist in Abraham's doctrine 
of a purer belief in the One God, whose nature 
differed essentially from that of the gods whom the 
various nations represented in the shape of idols 
and by means of other senseless conceptions. The 
higher recognition of the Deity was designed to lead 
Abraham's posterity to the practice of justice towards 
all men, in contradistinction to the injustice univer- 
sally prevailing in those days. It was affirmed that 
this higher culture was ordained by the Almighty as 
"the way of God," and that as such it should be 
transmitted by the patriarchs to their families as a 
bequest and as a subject of hereditary instruction. 
They also received the promise that through their 
posterity, as the faithful guardians of this teaching, 
all nations of the earth should be blessed, and should 
participate in this intellectual advancement of Israel ; 
and that with this same object the land of Canaan 
had been allotted to Israel, as especially adapted for 
the purposes of the hereditary law. Hence it was 
that the Israelites, while in a foreign country, felt an 
irrepressible yearning for their ancestral land. Their 
forefathers had impressed them with the hope that, 
though some of their generations would sojourn in a 
land which was not their own, a time would surely 
come when Israel should return to that land which 
was the resting-place of their patriarchs, and where 
the patriarchal altars had been erected and conse- 
crated. This promise became identified with all 
their positive expectations, and with their conviction 
that the acquisition of Canaan was secured to them 
on condition that they performed the duties of wor- 
shipping the God of their fathers, and observed the 
ways of justice and righteousness. The nature of 
this worship and "the way of justice" was not 


clearly defined, nor did they require such a definition. 
The lives of the patriarchs, as commemorated by 
posterity, served as a sufficient illustration of the 
family law. Abraham was^specially held up as a 
model of human excellence. Differing from other 
nations who worshipped their primaeval ancestors, 
his descendants did not revere him as a performer 
of marvellous deeds, nor as one exalted to the emi- 
nent degree of a god or a demi-god. Not as a war- 
rior and a conqueror did he live in the memory of 
his descendants, but as a self-denying, God-fearing 
man, who joined true simplicity and faith to noble- 
ness in thought and in action. According to their 
conception, Abraham the Hebrew, although born of 
idolatrous parents in Aram, on the other side of the 
Euphrates, and although brought up amidst idola- 
trous associations, had obeyed the voice which 
revealed to him a higher God, and had separated 
himself from those around him. When disputes 
arose, he did not obstinately insist upon his claims, 
but renounced his rights for the sake of living at 
peace with his fellow-men. So hospitable was he, 
that he would go forth to invite the passing way- 
farers, and delighted in entertaining them. He 
interceded for the sinners of Sodom and the neigh- 
bouring cities, when their cruel and inhuman acts 
had brought on them the punishment of Heaven ; 
and he prayed that they might be spared for the 
sake of any few righteous men amongst them. 

These and other remembrances of his peace-loving 
and generous disposition, of his self-abnegation, and 
of his submission to God, were cherished by his 
descendants, together with the conviction that such 
a line of conduct was agreeable to the God of their 
fathers ; that for the sake of these virtues God had 
protected Abraham, as well as his son and his 
grandson, because the two latter had followed the 
example of their predecessor. This belief that God 
especially protects the virtuous, the just, and the 


good, was fully confirmed in the life of the patriarch 
Jacob, to whom the additional name ISRAEL was 
given. His life had been short and toilsome, but 
the God of his fathers had delivered him from all 
his sorrows. Such remembrances of ancestral piety 
were retained by the sons of Israel, and such family 
traditions served to supplement and illustrate their 
hereditary law. 

The growth of Israel as a distinct race commenced 
amidst extraordinary circumstances. The beginning 
of this people bore but very slight resemblance to the 
origin of other nations. Israel as a people arose 
amidst peculiar surroundings in the land of Goshen, 
a territory situated in the extreme north of Egypt, 
near the borders of Palestine. The Israelites were 
not at once moulded into a nation, but consisted of 
twelve loosely connected shepherd tribes. 

These tribes led a simple life in the land of Goshen. 
The elders (Zekenim) of the families, who acted as 
their chiefs, were consulted on all important occa- 
sions. They had no supreme chieftain, nor did they 
owe allegiance to the Egyptian kings ; and thus they 
habitually enjoyed the freedom of a republic, in 
which each tribal section was enabled to preserve its 
independence without falling into subjection or 
serfdom. Although they did not become inter- 
mixed with the ancient Egyptians, who in fact had 
an aversion to shepherds perhaps on account of 
the oppression they had in former ages endured 
from such shepherds (the Hyksos) yet opportu- 
nities for contact and mutual communication could 
not be wanting. Some families of Israel had aban- 
doned their pastoral pursuits, and devoted them- 
selves to agriculture or industrial occupations, and 
were therefore brought into connection with the 


inhabitants of towns. It seems that the members of 
the tribe of Ephraim stood in closer social contact 
with the original inhabitants. This intercourse had 
a favourable influence upon the Israelites. 


The Egyptians had already gone through a history 
of a thousand years, and attained to a high degree 
of culture. Their kings, or Pharaohs, had already 
built populous cities, and erected colossal edifices, 
temples, pyramids and mausoleums. Their priests 
had acquired a certain degree of perfection in such 
arts and technical accomplishments as were suited 
to the requirements of the country, as for example, 
architecture and hydraulic constructions, the kindred 
science of geometry, the art of medicine, and the 
mystery of embalming for the perpetual preservation 
of the remains of the departed ; also the artistic 
working of objects in gold, silver and precious 
stones, in order to satisfy the luxurious demands of 
the kings. They also knew the art of sculpture and 
the use of pigments. They studied chronology, 
together with astronomy, which was suggested by 
the periodical overflow of the Nile. The all-impor- 
tant art of writing had been invented and perfected 
by the Egyptian priests. They first used stones and 
metals to commemorate the renown of their mon- 
archs ; and they afterwards employed the fibre of 
the papyrus shrub, which was originally marked with 
clumsy figures and subsequently with ingeniously 
drawn symbols. Of these several attainments the 
Israelites seem to have acquired some notion. The 
members of the destitute tribe of Levi in particular, 
being unencumbered by pastoral service or by 
landed possessions, appear to have learnt from the 
Egyptian priests the art of writing. Owing to their 
superior knowledge, they were treated by the other 
tribes as the sacerdotal class, and hence they held, 
even in Egypt, the privileged distinction of their 
priestly position. 

The residence of the Israelites in Egypt was of 
great advantage to them. It raised them, or at least 
a portion of them, from a rude state of nature to a 
higher grade of culture. But what they gained on 
the one hand, they lost on the other ; and in spite 


of their arts and accomplishments, they would in time 
have fallen into a more abject condition. Amongst 
no people which had advanced beyond the first stage 
of Fetish worship, had idolatry assumed such a 
hideous development, or so mischievously tainted 
the habits, as was the case with the Egyptians. By 
combining and intermingling the gods of the various 
districts, they had established a complete system of 
polytheism. As a matter of course they worshipped 
goddesses as well as gods. What made the myth- 
ology of the Egyptians especially repulsive, was the 
fact that they placed the deified beings of their 
adoration, from whom they expected help, far below 
the level of human beings. 

They endowed their gods with the shape of 
animals, and worshipped the inferior creatures as 
divine powers. Ammon, their chief god, was repre- 
sented with ram's horns, the goddess Pecht (Pacht) 
with a cat's head, and Hathor (Athyr), the goddess 
of licentiousness, with a cow's head. Osiris, who was 
worshipped throughout Egypt, was represented in a 
most loathsome and revolting image, and the uni- 
versally honoured Isis was often pictured with a 
cow's head. Animals being scarce in the Nile 
region, great value was attached to their preserva- 
tion, and they received divine homage. Such 
honours were paid to the black bull Apis (Abir) in 
Memphis, to the white bull Mnevis in Heliopolis, to 
the lustful goats, to dogs, and especially to cats; 
also to birds, snakes, and even mice. The killing of 
a sacred bull or cat was more severely punished than 
the murder of a human being. 

This abominable idolatry was daily witnessed by 
the Israelites. The consequences of such perver- 
sions were sufficiently deplorable. Men who in- 
vested their gods with the shape of animals sank 
down to the level of beasts, and were treated as such 
by the kings and by persons of the higher castes- 
trie priests and soldiers. Humanity was contemned ; 


no regard was paid to the freedom of the subjects, 
and still less to that of strangers. The Pharaohs 
claimed to be descended from the gods, and were 
worshipped as such even during their lifetime. The 
entire land with its population was owned by them. 
It was a mere act of grace on their part that they 
granted a portion of the territory to cultivators of 
the soil. 

Egypt, in fact, was not peopled by an independent 
nation, but by bondmen. Hundreds of thousands 
were forced to take part in compulsory labour for 
the erection of the colossal temples and pyramids. 
The Egyptian priests were \vorthyofsuch kings and 
gods. Cruelly as the Pharaohs harassed their 
subjects with hard labour, the priests continued to 
declare that the kings were demi-gods. Under the 
weight of this oppression the people became devoid 
of all human dignity, and submitted to the vilest 
bondage without ever attempting to relieve them- 
selves from the galling yoke. The repulsive idolatry 
then prevailing in Egypt had yet further pernicious 
consequences. The people lost the idea of chastity, 
after they had placed the brute creation on an 
equality with their deities. Unspeakable offences in 
the use of animals had become of daily occurrence, 
and entailed neither punishment nor disgrace. The 
gods being depicted in unchaste positions, there 
appeared to be no need for human beings to be 
better than the gods. No example is more conta- 
gious and seductive than folly and sin. The Israel- 
ites, especially those who were brought into closer 
contact with the Egyptians, gradually adopted 
idolatrous perversions, and abandoned themselves 
to unbridled license. This state of things was 
aggravated by a new system of persecution. 
During a long period, the Israelites residing in the 
Land of Goshen had been left unmolested, they 
having been looked upon as roving shepherds who 
would not permanently settle in Egypt. But when 


decades and even a century had passed by, and they 
still remained in the land and continued to increase 
in numbers, the council of the king begrudged them 
the state of freedom which was denied to the 
Egyptians themselves. The court now feared that 
these shepherd tribes, which had become so numer- 
ous in Goshen, might assume a warlike attitude 
towards Egypt. To avoid this danger, the Israelites 
were declared to be bondmen, and were compelled 
to perform forced labour. To effect a rapid decrease 
in their numbers, the king commanded that the male 
infants of the Israelites should be drowned in the 
Nile or in some of the canals, and that only the 
female infants should be spared. The Israelites, 
formerly free in the land of Goshen, were now kept 
" in a house of bondage," " in an iron furnace "; here 
it was to be proved whether they would conform to 
their hereditary law, or follow strange gos. 

The greater part of the tribes could not stand 
this trial. They had a dim knowledge that the God 
of their fathers was a being very different from the 
Egyptian idols; but even this knowledge seemed to 
decrease from day to day. Love of imitation, sore 
oppression, and daily misery made them obtuse, and 
obscured the faint light of their hereditary law. The 
enslaved labourers did not know what to think of 
an unseen God who only lived in their memories. 
Like their masters, the Egyptians, they now lifted 
their eyes to the visible gods who showed them- 
selves so merciful and propitious to Israel's tor- 
mentors. They directed their prayers to the bovine 
god Apis, whom they called Abir} and they also 
offered to the he-goats. 3 The daughter of Israel, 
growing up to womanhood, sacrificed her virtue, 

1 In Hebrew the word Abir means bull, mighty, and hence God. 
It is connected with the Egyptian abr (a bull), from which Apis is 
derived. Conf. Jeremiah xlvi. 15. 

2 Levit. xvii. 7. The sending of the scape-goat to Azazel marked 
the abomination in which this lascivious cult was held. 


and abandoned herself to the Egyptians. 1 It was 
probably thought that, in the images of the grass- 
eating animal, honour was paid to the god of the 
patriarchs. When the intellect is on a wrong track, 
where are the limits for its imaginings? The Israel- 
ites would have succumbed to coarse sensual idolatry 
and to Egyptian vice, like many other nations who 
had come under the influence of the people of the 
land of Ham, had not two brothers and their sister 
the instruments of a higher Spirit aroused them 
and drawn them out of their lethargy. These were 
MOSES, AARON and MIRIAM/* In what did the 
greatness of this triad consist? What intellectual 
powers led them to undertake their work of redemp- 
tion, the elevating and liberating effect of which was 
intended to extend far beyond their own times? 
Past ages have left but few characteristic traits of 
Moses, and barely any of his brother and sister, 
which could enable us to comprehend, from a human 
point of view, how their vision rose step by step from 
the faint dawn of primitive ideas to the bright sun- 
light of prophetic foresight, and by what means they 
rendered themselves worthy of their exalted mission. 
The prophetic trio belonged to that tribe which, 
through its superior knowledge, was regarded as 
the sacerdotal tribe, namely, the tribe of Levi. 
This tribe, or at least this one family, had doubtless 
preserved the memory of the patriarchs and the 
belief in the God of their fathers, and had accord- 
ingly kept itself aloof from Egyptian idolatry and 
its abominations. 

Thus it was that Aaron, the elder brother, as 
also Moses and Miriam, had grown up in an 
atmosphere of greater moral and religious purity. 
Of Moses the historical records relate that after his 
birth his mother kept him concealed during three 
months, to evade the royal command, and protect 

'Conf. Ezekiel xxiii. 7, 8. 

1 Micah vi. 4, mentions also Miriam, with her brothers, as a deliverer. 

CH. 1. MOSES. 13 

him from death in the waters of the Nile. There 
is no doubt that the youthful Moses was well ac- 
quainted with Pharaoh's court at Memphis or Tanis 
(Zoan). Gifted with an active intellect, he had an 
opportunity of acquiring the knowledge that was 
to be learnt in Egypt, and by his personal and 
intellectual qualities he won the affections of all 
hearts. But even more than by these qualities, he 
was distinguished by his gentleness and modesty. 
" Moses was the meekest of men," is the only 
praise which the historical records have bestowed 
upon him. He is not praised for heroism or war- t 
like deeds, but for unselfishness and self-abnega- 

Influenced by the ancient teaching, that the God 
of Abraham loved righteousness, he must have been 
repelled by the baseless idolatry of animal worship 
and by the social and moral wrongs which then were 
rife. Shameless vice, the bondage of a whole people 
under kings and priests, the inequality of castes, the 
treatment of human beings as though they were 
beasts or inferior to beasts, the spirit of slavery, all 
these evils he recognised in their full destructive 
force, and he perceived that the prevailing debase- 
ment had defiled his brethren. Moses was the open 
antagonist of injustice. It grieved him sorely that 
Israel's sons were subjected to slavery, and were 
daily exposed to ill-treatment by the lowest of the 
Egyptians. One day when he saw an Egyptian 
unjustly beating a Hebrew, his passion overcame his 
self-control, and he punished the offender. Fearing 
discovery, he fled from Egypt into the desert, and 
halted at an oasis in the neighbourhood of Mount 
Sinai, where the Kenites, an offshoot of the tribe of 
Midianites, were dwelling. Here, as in Egypt, he 
witnessed oppression and wrong-doing, and here 
also he opposed it with zeal. He gave his aid to 
feeble shepherdesses. By such action he came into 
contact with their grateful father, the priest or 


elder of the tribe of the Midianites, and he married 
Zipporah, the daughter of that priest. 

His employment in Midian was that of a shepherd. 
He selected fertile grazing plots for the herds of 
Reuel, his father-in-law, between the Red Sea and 
the mountain lands. In this solitude the prophetic 
spirit came upon him. 

What is the meaning of this prophetic spirit? 
Even those who have searched the secrets of the 
world, or the secrets of the soul in its grasp of the 
universe, can give only a faint notion and no distinct 
account of its nature. The inner life of man has 
depths which have remained inscrutable to the 
keenest investigator. It is, however, undeniable 
that the human mind can, without help from the 
senses, cast a far-seeing glance into the enigmatic 
concatenation of events and the complex play of 
forces. By means of an undisclosed faculty of the 
soul, man has discovered truths which are not within 
the reach of the senses. The organs of the senses 
can only confirm or rectify the truths already elicited. 
They cannot discover them. By means of the truths 
brought to light by that inexplicable power of the 
soul, man has learned to know nature and to make 
its forces subservient to his will. These facts attest 
that the power of the soul owns properties which go 
beyond the ken of the senses, and transcend the 
skilled faculties of human reason. Such properties 
lift the veil of the dim future, and lead to the dis- 
covery of higher truths concerning the moral conduct 
of man ; they are even capable of beholding a some- 
thing of that mysterious Being who has formed and 
who maintains the universe and the combined action 
of all its forces. A soul devoted to mundane matters 
and to selfishness can never attain to this degree of 
perfection. But should not a soul which is untouched 
by selfishness, undisturbed by low desires and pas- 
sions, unsoiled by profanity and the stains of every- 
day life, a soul which is completely merged in the 


Deity and in a longing for moral superiority, should 
not such a soul be capable of beholding a revelation 
of religious and moral truths? 

During successive centuries of Israel's history there 
arose pure-minded men, who unquestionably could 
look far into the future, and who received and im- 
parted revelations concerning God and the holiness 
of life. This is an historical fact which will stand 
any test. A succession of prophets predicted the 
future destiny of the Israelites and of other nations, 
and these predictions have been verified by fulfil- 
ment. These prophets placed the son of Amram as 
first on the list of men to whom a revelation was 
vouchsafed, and high above themselves, because his 
predictions were clearer and more positive. They 
recognised in Moses not only the first, but also the 
greatest of prophets; and they considered their own 
prophetic spirit as a mere reflection of his mind. If 
ever the soul of a mortal was endowed with luminous 
prophetic foresight, this was the case with the pure, 
unselfish, and sublime soul of Moses. In the desert 
of Sinai, says the ancient record, at the foot of Horeb, 
where the flock of his father-in-law was grazing, he 
received the first divine revelation, which agitated 
his whole being. Moved and elated humble, yet 
confident, Moses returned after this vision to his 
flock and his home. He had been changed into 
another being; he felt himself impelled by the spirit 
of God to redeem his tribal brethren from bondage, 
and to educate them for a higher moral life. 

Aaron, who had remained in Egypt, likewise had 
a revelation to meet his brother on Mount Horeb, 
and to prepare himself jointly with him for the work 
of redemption. The task of imbuing the servile 
spirit of the people with a desire for liberty seemed 
to them far more difficult than that of inducing 
Pharaoh to relax his rigor. Both brothers therefore 
expected to encounter obstacles and stubborn oppo- 
sition. Although both men were already advanced 


[n years, they did not shrink from the magnitude of 
the undertaking, but armed themselves with pro- 
phetic courage, and relied on the support of the God 
of their fathers. First they turned to the represen- 
tatives of families and tribes, to the elders of the 
people, and announced their message that God 
would take pity on Israel's misery, that He had 
promised them freedom, and that He would lead 
them back to the land of their fathers. The elders 
lent a willing ear to the joyful news; but the masses, 
who were accustomed to slavery, heard the words 
with cold indifference. Heavy labour had made 
them cowardly and distrustful. They did not even 
desire to abstain from worshipping the Egyptian 
idols. Every argument fell unheeded on their obtuse 
minds. " It is better for us to remain enthralled as 
bondmen to the Egyptians than to die in the 
desert." Such was the apparently rational answer 
of the people. 

The brothers appeared courageously before the 
Egyptian king, and demanded, in the name of the 
God who had sent them, that their people should be 
released from slavery, for they had come into the 
country of their own free will, and had preserved 
their inalienable right to liberty. If the Israelites 
were at first unwilling to leave the country, and to 
struggle with the uncertainties of the future, Pharaoh 
was still less inclined to let them depart. The mere 
demand that he should liberate hundreds of thou- 
sands of slaves who worked in his fields and build- 
ings, and that he should do so in the name of a God 
whom he knew not, or for the sake of a cause which 
he did not respect, induced him to double the labours 
of the Hebrew slaves, in order to deprive them of 
leisure for thoughts of freedom. Instead of meeting 
with a joyful reception, Moses and Aaron found them- 
selves overwhelmed with reproaches that through 
their fault the misery of the unfortunate sufferers 
had been increased. The King only determined to 


give way after he and his country had witnessed 
many terrifying and extraordinary phenomena and 
plagues, and when he could no longer free him- 
self from the thought that the unknown God was 
punishing him for his obstinacy. In consequence of 
successive calamities, the Egyptian king urged the 
Israelites to hasten and depart, fearing lest any 
delay might bring destruction upon him and his 
country. The Israelites had barely time to supply 
themselves with the provisions necessary for their 
long and wearisome journey. Memorable was the 
daybreak of the fifteenth of Nisan (March), on which 
the enslaved people regained their liberty without 
shedding a drop of blood. They were the first to 
whom the great value of liberty was made known, 
and since then this priceless treasure, the foundation 
of human dignity, has been guarded by them as the 
apple of the eye. 

Thousands of Israelites, their loins girded, their 
staves in their hands, their little ones riding on asses, 
and their herds following them, left their villages 
and tents, and assembled near the town of Rameses. 
Strange tribes who had lived by their side, shepherd 
tribes akin to them in race and language, joined 
them in their migration. They all rallied round the 
prophet Moses, obeying 'his words. He was their 
king, although he was free from ambition, and he may 
well be called the first promulgator of the doctrine of 
equality amongst men. The duty devolving on him 
during this exodus was more difficult to discharge 
than his message to the king and to the people of 
Israel. Only few amongst these thousands of newly 
liberated slaves could comprehend the great mission 
assigned to them. But the masses followed him 
stolidly. Out of this horde of savages he had to 
form a nation ; for them he had to conquer a home, and 
establish a code of laws, which rendered them capable 
of leading a life of rectitude. In this difficult task, 
he could reckon with certainty only on the tribe of 


Levi, who shared his sentiments, and assisted him in 
his arduous duties as a teacher. 

Whilst the Egyptians were burying the dead 
which the plague had suddenly stricken down, 
the Israelites, the fourth generation of the first 
immigrants, left Egypt, after a sojourn of several 
centuries. They journeyed towards the desert which 
divides Egypt from Canaan, on the same way by 
which the last patriarch had entered the Nile country. 
But Moses would not permit them to go by this 
short route, because he feared that the inhabitants of 
Canaan, on the coast of the Mediterranean, would 
oppose their entry with an armed force ; he also 
apprehended that the tribes, whom their long bondage 
had made timorous, would take to flight on the first 
approach of danger. 

Their first destination was Mount Sinai, where 
they were to receive those laws and precepts for the 
practice of which they had been set free. Pharaoh 
had, however, determined to recapture the slaves 
who had been snatched from his grasp, when, in a 
moment of weakness, he had allowed them to de- 
part. When the Israelites saw the Egyptians ap- 
proaching from afar, they gave way to despair, for 
they found themselves cut off from every means of 
escape. Before them was the sea, and behind them 
the enemy, who would soon overtake them, and 
undoubtedly reduce them again to bondage. Crying 
and lamenting, some of them asked Moses, "Are 
there no graves in Egypt that thou hast brought 
us out to die in the desert?" However, a means 
of escape unexpectedly presented itself, and could 
only be regarded by them as a miracle. A hurri- 
cane from the northeast had driven the water of 
the sea southwards during the night, so that the bed 
had for the greater part become dry. Their leader 
quickly seized on this means of escape, and urged 
the frightened people to hurry towards the opposite 
shore. His prophetic spirit showed him that they 


would never again see the Egyptians. They rapidly 
traversed the short distance across the dry bed of the 
sea, the deeper parts of the water, agitated by a storm, 
forming two walls on the right and the left. During 
this time, the Egyptians were in hot pursuit after the 
Israelites, in the hope of leading them back to 
slavery. At daybreak, they reached the west coast 
of the sea, and, perceiving the Israelites on the other 
side, they were hastening after them along the dry 
pathway, when the tempest suddenly ceased. The 
mountain-like waves, which had risen like walls on 
both sides, now poured down upon the dryland, and 
buried men, horses, and chariots in the watery deep. 
The sea washed some corpses to the coast where the 
Israelites were resting in safety. They here beheld 
a marvellous deliverance. The most callous became 
deeply impressed with this sight, and looked with 
confidence to the future. On that day they put their 
firm trust in God and in Moses, His messenger. 
With a loud voice they sang praises for their won- 
derful deliverance. In chorus they sang 

" I will praise the Lord, 
For He is ever glorious. 
The horse and his rider He cast into the sea." 

The deliverance from Egypt, the passage through 
the sea, and the sudden destruction of their resentful 
enemy were three occurrences which the Israelites 
had witnessed, and which never passed from their 
memories. In times of the greatest danger and 
distress, the recollection of this scene inspired 
them with courage, and with the assurance that 
the God who had redeemed them from Egypt, who 
had turned the water into dry land, and had de- 
stroyed their cruel enemy, would never desert them, 
but would " ever reign over them." Although the 
multitude did not long retain this trustful and pious 
disposition, but fell into despondency at every new 
difficulty, the intelligent portion of the Israelites were, 


in subsequent trials, sustained by their experiences at 
the Red Sea. 

The tribes, delivered from the bonds of slavery, 
and from the terrors of long oppression, could 
peaceably now pursue their way. They had yet 
many days' journey to Sinai, the temporary goal of 
their wanderings. Although the country through 
which they travelled was a sandy desert, it was not 
wanting in water, and in pasture land for the shep- 
herds. This territory was not unknown to Moses, 
their leader, who had formerly pastured the flocks 
of his father-in-law here. In the high mountains of 
Sinai and its spurs, the water in the spring-time 
gushes forth copiously from the rocks, forms into 
rills, and rushes down the slopes towards the Red 
Sea. Nor did the Israelites suffer through want of 
bread, for in its stead they partook of manna. 
Finding this substance in large quantities, and living 
on it during a long time, they came to consider its 
presence as a miracle. It is only on this peninsula 
that drops sweet as honey exude from the high 
tamarisk trees, which abound in that region. These 
drops issue in the early morning, and take the 
globular size of peas or of coriander seeds; but in 
the heat of the sun they melt away. Elated by their 
wonderful experiences, the tribes now seemed pre- 
pared to receive their holiest treasure, for the 
sake of which they had made the long circuitous 
journey through the desert of Sinai. From Re- 
phidim, which lies on a considerable altitude, they 
were led upwards to the highest range of the moun- 
tain, the summit of which appears to touch the 
clouds. 1 To this spot Moses led the Israelites in the 
third month after the exodus from Egypt, and ap- 

! The situation of Sinai is not to be sought in the so-called Sinaitic 
peninsula, but near the land of Edom, on the confines of which was 
the desert of Paran. Neither Jebel Musa, with the adjacent peaks of 
Jebel Catherine and Ras-es-Sutsafeh, nor Mount Jerbal, was the true 
Sinai. See " Monatsschrift," by Frankel-Graetz, 1878. p. 337. 


pointed their camping ground. He then prepared 
them for an astounding phenomenon, which appealed 
both to the eye and the ear. By prayer and absti- 
nence they were bidden to render themselves fit 
for lofty impressions, and worthy of their exalted 
mission. With eager expectation and anxious hearts 
they awaited the third day. A wall round the 
nearest mountain summit prevented the people from 
approaching too close. On the morning of the 
third day a heavy cloud covered the mountain top ; 
lightning flashed, and enveloped the mountain in 
a blaze of fire. Peals of thunder shook the sur- 
rounding mountains, and awakened the echoes. All 
nature was in uproar, and the world's end seemed to 
be at hand. With trembling and shaking, the old 
and the young beheld this terrifying spectacle. But 
its terror did not surpass the awfulness of the words 
heard by the affrighted people. The clouds of 
smoke, the lightning, the flames and the peals of 
thunder had only served as a prelude to these por- 
tentous words. 

Mightily impressed by the sight of the flaming 
mountain, the people clearly heard the command- 
ments which, simple in their import, and intelligible 
to every human being, form the elements of all cul- 
ture. Ten words rang forth from the mountain 
top. The people became firmly convinced that the 
words were revealed by God. Theft and bearing 
false witness were stigmatised as crimes. The voice 
of Sinai condemned evil thoughts no less than evil 
acts ; hence the prohibition, " Thou shalt not covet 
thy neighbour's wife . . . nor any possession of thy 
neighbour." The Indians, the Egyptians, and other 
nations famous for their colossal structures, had, 
during more than two thousand years, gone through 
many historical experiences, which shrink into utter 
insignificance, when compared with this one mo- 
mentous event. 

The work accomplished at Sinai by an instan- 


taneous act remained applicable to all times by 
asserting the supremacy of ethical life and the 
dignity of man. This promulgation of the Law 
marked the natal hour of the " distinct people," 
like unto which none had ever existed. The sublime 
and eternal laws of Sinai coming from a Deity 
whom the senses cannot perceive, from a Redeemer 
who releases the enthralled and the oppressed 
were revealed truths treating of filial duty, of spotless 
chastity, of the inviolable safety of human life and 
property, of social integrity, and of the purity of 

The Israelites had been led to Mount Sinai as 
trembling bondmen ; now they came back to their 
tents as God's people of priests, as a righteous 
nation (Jeskurun). By practically showing that the 
Ten Commandments are applicable to all the con- 
cerns of life, the Israelites were constituted the 
teachers of the human race, and through them all 
the families of the earth were to be blessed. None 
of the others could then have surmised that even 
for its own well-being an isolated and insignificantly 
small nation had been charged with the arduous 
task of the preceptive office. 

The Sinaitic teachings were not of an ephemeral 
nature, even in regard to their form. Being en- 
graven on tables of stone, they could be easily 
remembered by successive generations. During a 
long period these inscribed slabs remained in the 
custody of the Israelites, and were called " the 
Tables of the Testimony," or " the Tables of the 
Law." Being placed in an ark, which became a 
rallying centre, round which Moses used to assemble 
the elders of the families, these tables served as a 
sign of the Sinaitic Covenant. They formed a link 
between God and the people who had formerly been 
trodden under foot, and who were now bidden to 
own no other Lord save the One from whom the Law 
had gone forth. It was for this reason that the ark, 

CH. I. THE LAW. 23 

as the repository of the tables, was designated " the 
Ark of the Covenant." The ethical truths of Sinai 
became henceforth the basis for a new system of 
morality, and for the national constitution of the 
Israelites. These truths were further developed in 
special laws which had a practical bearing upon the 
public and private affairs of the people. Slave- 
holders and slaves were no longer to be found 
amongst the Israelites. The selling of Israelites as 
slaves, and perpetual servitude of an Israelite became 
unlawful. A man who forfeited his liberty was liable 
to be held in service during six years, but in the 
seventh year he regained his freedom. Wilful murder 
and disrespect to parents were punishable with death. 
The sanctuary could give no protection to criminals 
condemned to die. The murder of a non-Israelitish 
slave involved condign punishment. A gentile slave 
ill-treated by his master recovered his liberty. A man 
committing an offence on the virtue of a maiden was 
bound to make her his wife, and to pay a fine to the 
father of the injured woman. Equitable and humane 
treatment of the widow and the orphan was en- 
forced ; a similar provision was ordained for the 
benefit of strangers who had joined one of the tribes. 
The Israelites, in fact, were bidden remember their 
former sojourn in a foreign land, and to refrain from 
inflicting upon strangers the inhuman treatment 
which they themselves had formerly endured. 

This spirit of equity and brotherly love, pervading 
the ancient code of laws, could not at once change the 
habits of the people. The duties involved in these 
laws were too spiritual and too elevated to have such 
an effect. Moses having temporarily absented him- 
self to make preparations for the reception of the 
Sinaitic law, the dull-witted portion of the people 
imagined that their God was abandoning them in 
the desert, and they clamoured for the rule of a visible 
Godhead. Aaron, who had taken the lead in the 
absence of Moses, timorously yielded to this impe- 


tuous demand, and countenanced the production of 
a golden idol. This image of Apis or Mnevis received 
divine homage from the senseless multitude who 
danced around it. Moses, on descending from 
Mount Sinai, ordered the Levites to put to death 
some thousands of the people. Nothing but the 
exercise of extreme rigour could have repressed 
this worship of idols. 

With the object of protecting the people from a 
relapse into idolatry, and of supporting them during 
their state of transition from barbarism, they were 
allowed to form a conception of the Deity though 
not by means of an image through some material 
aid which would appeal to the senses. On Sinai 
they had beheld flashes of lightning with flames of 
fire, and from the midst of a burning cloud they had 
heard the Ten Commandments. An emblem of this 
phenomenon was now introduced to remind the 
people of the presence of the Deity as revealed at 
Sinai. It was ordained that a perpetual fire should 
be kept alight on a portable altar, and be carried 
before the tribes during their migrations. Not the 
Deity Himself, but the revelation of the Deity at 
Sinai, should thereby be made perceptible to the 
sense of vision. The performance of sacrificial rites 
was a further concession to the crude perceptions of 
the people. 

The spiritual religion promulgated at Sinai did 
not intend sacrifices as the expression of divine ador- 
ation, but was meant to inculcate a moral and holy 
life; the people, however, had not yet risen to this 
conception, and could only be advanced by means of 
education and culture. The other ancient nations 
having found in sacrifices the means of propitiating 
their deities, the Israelites were permitted to retain 
the same mode of divine service ; but its form was 
simplified. The altar became an integral part of the 
sanctuary, in which no image was tolerated. The 
only objects contained therein were a candelabrum, 

CH. i. RELIGION. 25 

a table with twelve loaves, symbolising the twelve 
tribes ; and there was also a recess for the Ark of the 
Covenant. Altar, sanctuary and sacrificial rites 
required a priesthood. This primaeval institution, too, 
was retained. The Levites, as the most devoted 
and best informed tribe, were charged with sacerdotal 
functions, as during the sojourn in Egypt. The 
priests of Israel, unlike those of the Egyptians, 
were precluded from holding landed property, as 
such possessions might have tempted them to misuse 
their prerogatives and neglect their sacred duties. 
For this reason it was prescribed that their subsist- 
ence should be derived from the offerings made by 
the people. Collaterally there existed a custom, dating 
from remote patriarchal ages, which demanded that 
the first-born son of every family should attend to 
the performance of sacrificial rites. This preroga- 
tive could not be abruptly abolished, and continued 
for some time alongside of the Levitical priest- 
hood, though both of them stood in the way of 
the pure Sinaitic teachings. The materialism of the 
age demanded indulgent concessions, combined with 
provisions tending to the refinement of popular 
habits. Only through the aid of the spiritually gifted 
could the understanding of the subordinate nature of 
sacrifices be preserved in the consciousness of the 

During the forty years of their wandering in the 
desert, the Israelites sought pastures for their flocks 
within the mountain region and its neighborhood. 

During these migrations Moses instructed the 
people. The older generation gradually passed 
away. Their descendants, obedient to the teachings 
of the lawgiver and his disciples, formed a docile, 
pious, and valiant community, and became proficient 
in the knowledge of their laws. 

Moses now surrounded himself with councillors, 
who were the chiefs of seventy families. This 
system became a model for later forms of adminis- 


tration. The Council of Elders participated in 
important deliberations, and assisted in the manage- 
ment of public business. On the advice of Jethro, his 
father-in-law, Moses appointed inferior and higher 
judges, who respectively had under their jurisdiction 
ten, a hundred, and a thousand families. The people 
had the right of electing their own judges, whose 
appointment they then recommended to Moses. 
These judges were charged to maintain strict im- 
partiality in cases of litigation between members of 
the tribes of Israel, or between Israelites and 
strangers. Nor was it within the discretion of the 
judges to make distinctions between persons of 
high and low degree. They were also commanded 
to keep their hands clean from bribes, and to give 
their verdicts according to the principles of equity, 
" for justice belongs unto God," and has its source in 
God himself. Brotherly love, community of interests, 
equality before the law, equity and mercy were the 
high ideals which he held before the generations 
which he had trained. The inculcation of these laws 
and teachings marked an eventful era in the nation's 
history. As such it was characterised by the prophets, 
who called it " the bridal time of the daughter of 
Israel," and the season of "her espousals, when she 
went after her God in the land which was not sown." 
Israel's wanderings had nearly come to a con- 
clusion and the younger generation was well fitted 
for the attainment of the object of its settlement. 
A further sojourn in the desert would have inured 
the people to habits of restlessness, and might have 
reduced them for ever to the nomadic condition of 
the Midianites and the Amalekites. They appear to 
have made an unsuccessful raid in a northern direc- 
tion, along the old caravan roads. In a second defeat 
some of them were captured by their enemies. But 
this discomfiture was apparently avenged by com- 
batants belonging to the tribe of Judah, who were 
aided by men of the tribe of Simeon, and by Kenites, 
with whose assistance they seized several cities. 


The other tribes were prepared to effect an 
entrance into the country by following a circuitous 
route on the eastern side. This expedition might 
have been shortened if the Idumeans, who dwelt on 
the mountain ranges of Seir, had permitted the 
Israelites to pass through their territory. Appa- 
rently the Idumeans were afraid that the invading 
Israelites would dispossess them of the land, and 
they therefore sallied forth to obstruct the direct 
road. Their opposition forced the tribes of Israel to 
make a long detour round the country of Idumea, 
and to turn to the east of the mountain ranges of 
Seir in order to approach Canaan from the opposite 
side. Not being permitted to attack the Idumeans 
and the kindred tribes of the Ammonites, the Israel- 
ites had to traverse the border of the eastern desert 
in order to reach the inhabited regions at the source 
of the Arnon, which flows into the Dead Sea. 

Moses now sent conciliatory messages to Sihon, 
to request that the people might pass through his 
territory on their way to the Jordan. Sihon refused 
his consent, and marched an army to the borders of 
the desert to oppose the advance of the invaders. 
The Israelites of the new generation, animated with 
youthful prowess, put themselves in battle array, and 
routed the hostile troops, whose king they slew at 

This victory was of incalculable importance to the 
Israelites; it strengthened their position and in- 
spired them with self-reliance. They at once took 
possession of the conquered district, and henceforth 
abandoned their nomadic life. Whilst the Israelites 
felt confident of success in conquering the Land 
of Promise, the Canaanites, on the other hand, 
were terror-stricken at the defeat of the mighty 
Sihon. The Israelites could now move about 
freely, being no longer incommoded by the narrow 
belt of the desert, nor by the suspicions of un- 
friendly tribes. Dangers having given way to a 


state of security, this sudden change of circum- 
stances aroused in their bosoms virtuous emotions, 
together with ignoble passions. 

The people of Moab now perceived that their 
feeble existence was threatened by their new 
neighbours. Balak, their king, felt that he could 
not cope with the Israelites in the open field of battle, 
and he preferred to employ the arts of Balaam, the 
Idumean or Midianite magician, whose maledic- 
tions were supposed to have the power of calling 
down distress and destruction on an entire people 
or on a single individual. Balaam having been struck 
with amazement at the sight of Israel's encamp- 
ment, the intended maledictions were changed on 
his lips into blessings. He averred that no " en- 
chantment avails against Jacob, and no divination 
against Israel," a glorious future having been assured 
to that people. But he advised the king to have 
recourse to a different charm, which might have a 
pernicious effect upon the Israelites, namely, to 
beguile them to the vice of profligacy by means 
oi depraved temple maidens. 

Balak accepted this advice. The Israelites, during 
their migrations, had lived on friendly terms with 
the wandering Midianites, and entertained no sus- 
picions when admitting the latter into their encamp- 
ments and tents. Counselled by Balaam and insti- 
gated by Balak, many Midianites brought their 
wives and daughters into the tents of the Israelites, 
who were then invited to join the idolatrous festiv- 
ities at the shrine of Baal-Peor. On such occasions 
it was the custom for women to sacrifice their 
virtue in the tents, and the guerdon of dishonour 
was then presented as an oblation to the idols. 
Many an Israelite was led into profligacy by these 
allurements, and partook of the sacrificial feasts, 
two sins which tended to sap the foundation of the 
doctrine revealed on Sinai. Unhappily no one in 
Israel seemed willing to obey the command of Moses 


by checking this outbreak of vice. Phineas, Aaron's 
grandson, was the only man whose heart revolted 
against these excesses. Seeing that a Midianite 
woman entered a tent with a chief of the tribe of 
Simeon, he stabbed both of them to death; and thus 
was the raging plague turned away from the people. 

On the other hand, there was now witnessed a 
significant change in Israel. The unexpected and 
eventful victories had aroused amongst them the 
melodious power of song, the first indication of that 
talent, without which no nation can attain to a 
superior degree of culture. The first songs of the 
Hebrew muse were those of war and victory. The 
authors (mosJielim) of warlike hymns rose at once in 
public estimation, and their productions were pre- 
served in special collections, as for example, in the 
Book of the Wars of God. 

Hebrew poetry, in its early stages, was deficient in 
depth and elegance, but it had two characteristics 
which in the course of time were developed to the 
highest stage of refinement. With regard to form, it 
exhibited a symmetry in the component parts of 
each verse {parallelismus membrorum}. The same 
train of thought was repeated with appropriate vari- 
ations in two or even three divisions of the verse. 
In the treatment of a theme, the muse of early 
Hebrew poetry displayed a tendency to irony, this 
being the result of a twofold conception, namely, 
that of the ideal aspect by the side of antithetic 

The Israelites, seeking to arrive at the goal of 
their wishes and to gain possession of the Land of 
Promise, could not tarry in the fertile region between 
the Arnon and the Jabbok. They had to prepare 
for crossing the Jordan. But now the evil conse- 
quences of having triumphed over Sihon and Og 
became manifest. The tribes of Reuben and Gad 
announced that they wished to remain in the con- 
quered land, because its verdant pastures were well 


adapted for their numerous flocks and their herds of 
cattle and camels. In making such a demand it 
appeared that these tribes desired to sever their lot 
from that of their brethren, and to live as inde- 
pendent nomads. Oppressed with this cause of 
anxiety, Moses reproached them bitterly for their 
defection, but felt constrained to grant them the 
conquered land under the condition that a contingent 
of their combatants should assist the warriors of the 
brother-tribes, and follow them across the Jordan. 
This allotment of land to the two tribes caused an 
unexpected territorial division. The land possessed 
by these tribes became known as the Trans-Jordanic 
territory (Eber ka-Jarden or Peraea). In the process 
of time this concession proved more injurious than 

The rest of the tribes were on the eve of crossing 
the Jordan, when their great leader Moses was re- 
moved by death. The thirty days which the Israel- 
ites spent in mourning were not an excessive sacrifice. 
His loss was irreparable, and they felt themselves 
utterly bereft. Amongst all lawgivers, founders of 
states, and teachers of mankind, none has equalled 
Moses. Not only did he, under the most inauspicious 
circumstances, transform a horde of slaves into a 
nation, but he imprinted on it the seal of everlasting 
existence : he breathed into the national body an 
immortal soul. He held before his people ideals, the 
acceptance of which was indispensable, since all 
their weal and woe depended upon the realisation 
or non-realisation of those ideals. Moses could 
well declare that he had carried the people as a 
father carries his child. His patience and his 
courage had rarely deserted him ; his unselfishness, 
and his meekness of disposition were two promi- 
nent qualities, which, together with his clear proph- 
etic vision, eminently fitted him to be the instrument 
of the Deity. Free from jealousy, he wished that all 
Israelites might be prophets like himself, and that 


God would endue them with His spirit. Moses be- 
came at a subsequent epoch the unattainable ideal 
of a prophet. Succeeding generations were elated 
by the thought that this brilliant example of humanity 
had watched the infant state of the people of Israel. 
Even the death of Moses served as an enduring 
lesson. In the land of Moab, in the valley facing 
Mount Peor which was held sacred by the popula- 
tion of that district he was quietly entombed, and 
to this day no one has known the spot where he was 
buried. It was designed that the Israelites should 
not deify him, but should be kept from following the 
idolatrous practice of other nations, who deified their 
kings, and their men of real or presumed greatness, 
as also the founders of their religions. 

Sad at heart on account of the death of their 
beloved leader, who was not permitted to conduct 
them into the Land of Promise, but comforted by the 
lofty recollections of the redemption from Egyptian 
bondage, the passage through the sea, and the reve- 
lation on Sinai, encouraged also by the victories 
over Sihon, Og, and the Midianites the tribes of 
Israel crossed the Jordan, on a day in the bright 
spring-time, and were conducted on their journey 
by Joshua, the faithful disciple of Moses. 



Joshua's Succession Passage of the Jordan Conquest of Jericho 
The Gibeonites Coalition of Canaanite Cities against the Israelites 
Settlement in the Land Isolation of the Tribes Allotments 
The Tribe of Levi The Ark of the Covenant at Shiloh Condition 
of Canaan at the time of the Conquest Climate and Fertility- 
Intellectual Activity Poetry of Nature Remnants of Canaanite 
Populations Death of Joshua. 

ON crossing the Jordan and entering Canaan, the 
Israelites met with no resistance. Terror had 
paralysed the tribes and populations who then held 
the land. Nor were they united by any tie which 
might have enabled them to oppose the invaders. 
Although mention is made of thirty-one kings, 
besides those who ruled near the coast-line of the 
Mediterranean, these rulers were petty chiefs, who 
were independent of each other, and each of them 
governed only a single township with the adjoining 
district. They remained passive, whilst the Israelites 
were encamping near Gilgal, between the Jordan 
and Jericho. The fortress of Jericho, exposed 
to the first brunt of an attack from the Israelites, 
could expect no help from elsewhere, and was 
left entirely to its own resources. The tribes of 
Israel, on the other hand, were headed by a well- 
tried leader; they were united, skilled in warfare, 
and eager for conquest. 

Joshua, the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, 
was accepted as the rightful successor of the great 
Prophet. Moses, having laid his hands upon the 
disciple, had endowed him with his spirit. Yet 
Joshua was far from being a prophet. Practical in 
his aspirations, he was more concerned in affairs of 
immediate necessity and utility, than in ideals of the 


future. In his early years, when overthrowing the 
Amalekites near Rephidim, he had given proof 
of courage and good generalship. His connection 
with the tribe of Ephraim, the most distinguished 
amongst the tribes, was likewise of advantage to his 
position as a commander. The Ephraimites, with 
their pride and obstinacy, might otherwise have 
withheld their allegiance. This tribe having yielded 
obedience to him, the other tribes readily followed 
the example. 

The first place to be attacked was Jericho. This 
city was situated in an exceedingly fertile mountain 
district. Here throve the lofty palm tree and the 
precious balsam shrub. Owing to the proximity of 
the Dead Sea, the climate of Jericho has, during the 
greater part of the year, a high temperature, and the 
fruits of the field ripen earlier there than in the 
interior of the country. The conquest of Jericho was, 
therefore, of primary importance; this city was 
strongly fortified, and its inhabitants, timid under 
open attack, felt secure only within the precincts of 
their defences. The walls of Jericho, according to 
the scriptural narrative, crumbled to pieces at the 
mighty and far-sounding shouts of Israel's warriors. 
They entered the city, and, meeting with little 
resistance, they slew the population, which was 
enfeebled by depraved habits. After this easy 
victory the warriors of Israel became impetuous, and 
they imagined that a small portion of their force was 
sufficient to reduce Ai, a scantily populated fortress, 
which lay at a distance of two or three hours' journey 
to the north. Joshua therefore sent a small detach- 
ment of his men against Ai, but at the first onslaught 
they were repulsed, and many of them were slain on 
the field of battle. This defeat spread terror among 
the Israelites, who feared that they were forsaken by 
God, whilst it gave new courage to the Canaanites. 
It was only by the entire army's drawing up and employ- 
ing a stratagem that Joshua succeeded in taking Ai. 


Bethel, situated in the vicinity, likewise fell by a ruse 
into the hands of the Ephraimites. These two moun- 
tain fastnesses having been captured, the inhabi- 
tants of the adjoining towns and villages became 
even more faint-hearted. Without awaiting an 
attack, they abandoned their homes, and fled to the 
north, the west and the south. The country, being 
more or less denuded of its inhabitants, was now 
occupied by the conquerors. The Gibeonites, or 
Hivites, in the tract of land called Gibeon, freely 
submitted to Joshua and his people. They agreed 
that the Israelites should share with them the 
possession of their territory on the condition that 
their lives should be spared. Joshua and the elders 
having agreed to these terms, the compact, according 
to the practice of that age, was ratified by an oath. 
In this way the Israelites acquired possession of the 
whole mountain district from the borders of the great 
plain to the vicinity of Jerusalem, the subsequent 
metropolis of Palestine. The borderland of the 
plain separated the original inhabitants of the north 
from those of the south, and neither of these popu- 
lations was willing to render help to the other. The 
southern Canaanites now became more closely 
allied. The apprehension that their land might fall 
an easy prey to the invaders overcame their mutual 
jealousies and their love of feud ; being thus brought 
into closer union with each other, they ventured to 
engage in aggressive warfare. Five kings, or rather 
chiefs of townships, those of Jebus (Jerusalem), 
Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon, joined together 
to punish the Gibeonites for submitting to the 
invaders, for whom they had opened the road, and 
whom they had helped to new conquests. The 
Gibeonites, in face of this danger, implored the pro- 
tection of Joshua, who forthwith led his victorious 
warriors against the allied troops of the five towns, 
and inflicted on them a crushing defeat near Gibeon. 
The beaten army fled many miles towards the west 


and the south, and in their flight they were struck 
down by a hailstorm. This day of battle appears to 
have been regarded as one of signal triumph, its 
achievements were remembered even five hundred 
years later, and were commemorated in a martial 
song : 

"Joshua spake ; 

'O Sun, stand thou still near Gibeon, 
And thou, O Moon, near the valley of Ajalon !' 
And the sun stood still, 
And the moon remained at rest, 
Until the people had chastised the foes." 1 

The passage of the Jordan, auspicious beyond 
expectation, and the rapid succession of victories 
were new wonders which could fitly be associated 
with those of former days. They afforded rich 
themes for praise, which was not dedicated to the 
great deeds of the people, but to the marvellous 
working of the Deity. 

The victory at Gibeon opened access to the south, 
and the Israelites could now freely move their forces 
in that direction; but there were still some strong- 
holds in the south which they were unable either to 
capture or to keep in subjection. 

The principal work the subjection of the cen- 
tral portion of Canaan being now accomplished, 
the tribes of Israel ceased to form one combined 
army, and in this severance they were probably 
influenced by the example of the children of 
Joseph. The latter, who were divided into the 
tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, claimed to have 
precedence in the ranks of Israel. This claim may 
be traced back, as has already been shown, to 
their sojourn in Egypt, and also to the fact that 
Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, was descended 
from Ephraim. Hence it was that the children of 
Joseph sought to obtain possession of the central 
mountain range, which abounded in springs and had 

'Joshua x. 12, 13. 


a very rich soil. Shechem, the ancient town of the 
Hivites, being situated between Mount Gerizim and 
Mount Ebal, had a good supply of water on every 
side, and became the principal city of the land. 
But the two divisions, Ephraim and Manasseh, were 
unwilling to content themselves with this desirable 
district (which was named " Mount Ephraim "). As 
Joshua was one of their own tribe, they expected 
from him the favours of a partisan, and that he 
would yield to all their demands. They alleged, 
therefore, that the territory allotted to them was 
insufficient for their numerous families. They de- 
sired to possess not only the fine and fertile plain 
which extended many miles to the north, but also 
the land, lying beyond, round Mount Tabor ; but 
they did not find Joshua so yielding as they had 
anticipated. With a touch of irony he told them 
that, since they were so numerous, they ought to be 
able to conquer Mount Tabor, in the land of the 
Perizzites and the Rephaites, and clear away the 
forest. Disappointed by this reply, they withdrew 
from the expeditions of the combined tribes, and 
contented themselves with the extent of territory 
which had originally been allotted to them. Owing to 
this withdrawal from the common cause, the other 
tribes were induced to follow a similar course, and to 
acquire, independently of each other, the land neces- 
sary for their respective settlements. Four tribes 
fixed their attention upon the north, and four upon 
the south and the west. The expedition, from which 
the sons of Joseph had retired, was hazarded by the 
four tribes of Issachar, Zebulon, Asher, and Naphtali. 
They descended into the plain of Jezreel, where they 
left a portion of their settlers. Another portion 
pushed on to the northern hill regions, which touched 
the base of the lofty mountain range. These tribes 
were even less prepared than the children of Joseph 
for engaging in warfare with the inhabitants of the 
plain, to whose rapidly moving war-chariots they 


could have offered no resistance. The children of 
Issachar were satisfied with the pasture land in the 
great plain, and they had no desire to throw them- 
selves into fortified cities. The men of this tribe 
appear to have placed themselves under the su- 
premacy of the Canaanites, for they loved a peaceful 
life, and, as they found the land fertile, they readily 
bore the imposition of tribute. Zebulon, the twin 
tribe of Issachar, was more active, and appears to 
have conquered for itself a safe settlement in the 
north of Mount Tabor. The remaining two tribes, 
Asher and Naphtali, seem to have met with greater 
difficulties in gaining a firm footing among the 
neighbouring Canaanite population, who were more 
combative and also more closely united. These 
warriors concentrated themselves at Hazor, where 
Jabin, the local king, ruled over several districts. 
This king summoned the inhabitants of the allied 
cities to take up arms and destroy the invading 
Israelites. The tribes of Asher and Naphtali, unable 
to cope with the enemy, hastened to invoke Joshua's 
assistance. At that time mutual sympathy was still 
keen among the tribes, and Joshua found them ready 
to bring speedy relief to their brethren in the north. 
With these auxiliaries, and with the men of Asher 
and Naphtali, Joshua surprised the Canaanites, who 
were allied under King Jabin, near Lake Merom, 
defeated them, and put the remainder to flight. 
This was the second great victory he gained over 
the allied enemies. Through the battle of Merom, 
the two tribes succeeded in firmly establishing them- 
selves in the regioh situated on the west side of the 
upper course of the Jordan and the east side of the 
Mediterranean Sea. Asher and Naphtali, being 
settled at the extreme north, occupied the position 
of outposts, the former being placed at the west, 
and the other at the east, of the plateau. 

At the same time four other tribes acquired their 
settlements in the south ; and they relied upon their 


to make any resistance, or if they did fake up a 
defensive position they were easily routed- On this 
account the conviction gained ground arP on g st the 
Israelites that the Deity Himself had led th e warriors, 
and had scattered their opponents in utter confusion. 
This great conquest became, therefore, tP e natural 
theme of spirited poetry. 

Although insufficient portions had bee n . a ^ otte ^ 
to a few of the tribes, such a^ the SimePnites ar| d 
the Danites, they still owned some la n ds which 
might afford a partial subsistence, and b COme the 
nucleus for a further extension of prop r ty- ^he 
Levites alone had been left altogether u n P rov ided 
with landed possessions. This was don e in strict 
conformity with the injunctions of Mose' s > lest the 
tribe of priests, by misusing its rights * birth, 
should become affluent agriculturists, ancJ De drawn 
away from their holy avocations by the desire of 
enriching themselves like the Egyptian pnests, 
who, under the pretext of defending the interest of 
religion, despoiled the people of its jjroP er ty> a d 
formed a plutocratic caste. 

The Levites were to remain poor ai lc * content 
themselves with the grants made to th m by the 

^5 * J 

owners of lands and herds, they being r c l uire(:1 to 
devote all their attention to the sanctuafY an d the 
divine law. 

During Joshua's rule the camp of Gilgal> between 
the Jordan and Jericho, was the centre f divine 
worship and of the Lsvitical encampn ient ; here 
also the tabernacle of the covenant had been 
erected, and sacrifices were offered up P ut Gilgal 
coulct not permanently serve as the P^ ace f or 
assembling the people/for it lay in an U nP r d u ctiye 
and unfrequented district. As soon as the affairs 
of the people were more consolidated, an d a fte r 
the Trans-Jordanic warriors had returned to their 
homes, another locality had to be selected for the 
sanctuary. As a matter of course, it was expedient 


that the sacred place should be situated within the 
confines of Ephraim. Joshua likewise had his seat 
amongst the Ephraimites, namely at Timnath- 
Serah, a town which that tribe had gratefully allotted 
to him. 

Shiloh (Salem) was chosen as the spot for the 
establishment of the sanctuary. When the ark. of 
the covenant arrived there, an altar was, as a 
matter of course, erected by its side. Here the 
public assemblies were held, if not by all the tribes, 
certainly by those of Ephraim, Manasseh and 
Benjamin. Phineas, the high priest of the house 
of Aaron, and the priests who succeeded him in 
office, took up their abode in Shiloh. It is highly 
probable that many of the Levites resided in that 
town whilst others were dispersed throughout the 
towns of the several tribes ; but on the whole they 
led a wandering life. 

Through the immigration of the Israelites, the 
land of Canaan not only received a new name, but 
assumed a different character. It became a "Holy 
Land," " the Heritage of God," and was regarded as 
favourable to the people's destination of leading a 
holy life. 

Foreign countries, contrasted with Palestine, ap- 
peared to them to be profane, and utterly unadapted 
for perpetuating the devout worship of the One 
Spiritual God, or for enforcing the observance of His 
law. The Holy Land was imagined to be sensible of 
the pious or of the wicked conduct of its inhabitants. 
There were three iniquities which the land was sup- 
posed to spurn as the most heinous. These were 
murder, licentiousness, and idolatry. The conviction 
was general that on account of such misdeeds the 
land had cast out its former inhabitants, and that it 
would not retain the Israelites if they indulged 
in similar crimes. These ideas took deep root 
amongst the people of Israel, and they regarded 
Palestine as surpassing, in its precious qualities, 


every other country. It was, indeed, an undeniable 
fact that the Land of Israel (so it was named from 
the time when this people took possession of it) 
had striking distinctions, which were unequalled 
in any other portion of the globe. Within the small 
expanse of territory, one hundred and fifty miles by 
sixty, if the Trans-Jordanic region be included, con- 
trasting peculiarities are crowded together, which 
give a marvellous character to that country. Th( 
perpetual snow-tops of Lebanon and Hermon ii 
the north overlook the ranges of mountains am 


valleys far away to the sandy desert in the south, 
where scorching heat, like that of tropical Africa, 
burns up all vegetation. In close proximity to each 
other, trees of various kinds are found to thrive, 
which elsewhere are separated by great distances. 
Here is the slender palm tree, which shoots up 
only under a high temperature, and there grows 
the oak tree, which cannot endure such heat. 
If the heat of the south fires the blood, and fills 
man with violent passions, the wind sweeping over 
northern snow-fields, on the other hand, renders 
him calm, thoughtful, and deliberate. 

On two sides Palestine is bordered by water. The 
Mediterranean Sea, extending along the western 
margin of the land, forms inlets for ships. Along 
the eastern boundary flows the Jordan, which takes 
its rise in the slopes of Mount Hermon, and runs in 
nearly a straight line from north to south. In the 
north the Jordan flows through the " Lake of the 
Harp " (Kinnereth^ Genesareth, or Lake of Tiberias), 
and in the south this river is lost in the wonderful 
" Salt Sea." These two basins form likewise a 
strange contrast. The " Lake of the Harp " (also 
" Lake of Galilee ") contains sweet water. In its 
depths fishes of various kinds disport themselves. 
On its fertile banks, the vine, the palm, the fig-tree, 
and other fruit-bearing trees are found to thrive. 
In the high temperature of this region, fruits arrive 


at their maturity a month earlier than on the 
mountain land. The Salt Sea or "The Sea of the 
Deep Basin " (arabaJi] produces a contrary effect, 
and has rightly been called the Dead Sea. In its 
waters no vertebrate animals can exist. The exces- 
sive quantities of salt, together with magnesia, 
and masses of asphalt contained in that sea, kill 
every living object. The atmosphere of this region 
is likewise impregnated with salt, and, as the adjacent 
land is covered with lime-pits, it forms a dreary 
desert. The oval-shaped border of the Dead Sea 
rises, in some parts, to a height of more than 1,300 
feet above the water level, and being totally bare 
and barren, the entire district presents a most dismal 

Between the water-line and the mountain walls 
there are, however, some oases in which the balsam 
shrub thrives, and which, in regard to fertility, 
are not inferior to any spot on earth. Being 
situated near the centre of the western seaboard, 
this strip of land is exceedingly fruitful. But 
luxuriant as the vegetation of this place is, it is 
even surpassed by that of the oasis on the south- 
east corner of the Dead Sea. Here stood at one time 
the town of Zoar, which was noted as the city 
of palm-trees (Tamarah). This locality likewise 
favoured in former ages the growth of the balsam 
shrub. At a distance of five miles to the north- 
east, near the town of Beth-Haran, the famous balm 
of Gilead was found; but by the side of the Dead 
Sea miasmatic salt-marshes extend for a length of 
several miles. The shores of this sea and also of the 
sea of Galilee send forth thermal springs impreg- 
nated with sulphur, and these serve to cure various 

The essentially mountainous configuration of Pal- 
estine was of great benefit to the Israelites. Two 
long and imposing mountain ranges, separated by a 
deep valley, raise their heads in the north, like two 


every other country. It was, indeed, an undeniable 
fact that the Land of Israel (so it was named from 
the time when this people took possession of it) 
had striking distinctions, which were unequalled 
in any other portion of the globe. Within the small 
expanse of territory, one hundred and fifty miles by 
sixty, if the Trans-Jordanic region be included, con- 
trasting peculiarities are crowded together, which 
give a marvellous character to that country. The 
perpetual snow-tops of Lebanon and Hermon in 
the north overlook the ranges of mountains and 
valleys far away to the sandy desert in the south, 
where scorching heat, like that of tropical Africa, 
burns up all vegetation. In close proximity to each 
other, trees of various kinds are found to thrive, 
which elsewhere are separated by great distances. 
Here is the slender palm tree, which shoots up 
only under a high temperature, and there grows 
the oak tree, which cannot endure such heat. 
If the heat of the south fires the blood, and fills 
man with violent passions, the wind sweeping over 
northern snow-fields, on the other hand, renders 
him calm, thoughtful, and deliberate. 

On two sides Palestine is bordered by water. The 
Mediterranean Sea, extending along the western 
margin of the land, forms inlets for ships. Along 
the eastern boundary flows the Jordan, which takes 
its rise in the slopes of Mount Hermon, and runs in 
nearly a straight line from north to south. In the 
north the Jordan flows through the " Lake of the 
Harp " (Kinnereth, Genesareth, or Lake of Tiberias), 
and in the south this river is lost in the wonderful 
" Salt Sea." These two basins form likewise a 
strange contrast. The " Lake of the Harp " (also 
" Lake of Galilee ") contains sweet water. In its 
depths fishes of various kinds disport themselves. 
On its fertile banks, the vine, the palm, the fig-tree, 
and other fruit-bearing trees are found to thrive. 
In the high temperature of this region, fruits arrive 


at their maturity a month earlier than on the 
mountain land. The Salt Sea or "The Sea of the 
Deep Basin " (arabafi] produces a contrary effect, 
and has rightly been called the Dead Sea. In its 
waters no vertebrate animals can exist. The exces- 
sive quantities of salt, together with magnesia, 
and masses of asphalt contained in that sea, kill 
every living object. The atmosphere of this region 
is likewise impregnated with salt, and, as the adjacent 
land is covered with lime-pits, it forms a dreary 
desert. The oval-shaped border of the Dead Sea 
rises, in some parts, to a height of more than 1,300 
feet above the water level, and being totally bare 
and barren, the entire district presents a most dismal 

Between the water-line and the mountain walls 
there are, however, some oases in which the balsam 
shrub thrives, and which, in regard to fertility, 
are not inferior to any spot on earth. Being 
situated near the centre of the western seaboard, 
this strip of land is exceedingly fruitful. But 
luxuriant as the vegetation of this place is, it is 
even surpassed by that of the oasis on the south- 
east corner of the Dead Sea. Here stood at one time 
the town of Zoar, which was noted as the city 
of palm-trees (Tamarah). This locality likewise 
favoured in former ages the growth of the balsam 
shrub. At a distance of five miles to the north- 
east, near the town of Beth-Haran, the famous balm 
of Gilead was found; but by the side of the Dead 
Sea miasmatic salt-marshes extend for a length of 
several miles. The shores of this sea and also of the 
sea of Galilee send forth thermal springs impreg- 
nated with sulphur, and these serve to cure various 

The essentially mountainous configuration of Pal- 
estine was of great benefit to the Israelites. Two 
long and imposing mountain ranges, separated by a 
deep valley, raise their heads in the north, like two 


snow-capped giants. One of them is Mount Leb- 
anon, the tallest peak of which has a height of more 
than 10,000 feet, and is named DJior el-Khedib. The 
other mountain is Hermon (the Anti-Lebanon), the 
highest point of which, the Sheikh, has an elevation 
of 9,300 feet. The Lebanon was never included in 
the land of Israel ; it remained in the possession of 
the Phoenicians, the Aramaeans, and the people who 
succeeded the latter. This mountain range was of 
practical utility to the Israelites, who derived from its 
celebrated cedar forests the material for their edifices. 
Besides this, its lofty and odoriferous crests formed 
a favourite theme in the imagery of the Hebrew 
poets. Mount Hermon, with its snow-covered head, 
touches the north side of the ancient territory of 
Israel. This mountain, if not hidden by intervening 
hills, forms a charming object of admiration even at 
a distance of a hundred miles. 

The spurs of these two ranges were continued in 
the northern mountains of Israel (Mount Naphtali, 
subsequently named the mountains of Galilee), the 
highest peak of which rises to 4,000 feet. These 
heights have a gradual slope towards the great and 
fertile plain of Jezreel, which is only 500 feet above 
the level of the sea. Several mountain ranges inter- 
sect this plain and divide it into smaller plains. 
Mount Tabor (1,865 feet high) is not so much dis- 
tinguished for its height as for its cupola shape. 
Mount Moreh (1,830 feet), now called Ed-Duhy, 
seems to lean against Mount Tabor. Not far from 
there, somewhat towards the east, run the hill-tops of 
Gilboa (2,000 feet). On the west side of the great 
plain lies the extensive tree-crested range of Carmel, 
which forms a wall close to the sea. The great 
plain of Jezreel has the shape of an irregular triangle, 
with a length of twenty miles from north to south, 
and a breadth of from six to fifteen miles from east 
to west, having the mountain border of Carmel on the 
one side and that of Gilboa on the other. This plain 


divides the land into two unequal parts. The northern 
half, which is the smaller, received at a later time the 
name of Galilee. On the south of this plain, the 
ground gradually rises, and, at one point, attains an 
elevation of 2,000 feet. This district was called 
Mount Ephraim. From Jerusalem, southwards to 
Hebron, the land again ascends to a height of 3,000 
feet, forming the land of Judah. Here there is a 
gradual descent, and at the old frontier town of 
Beersheba the level does not rise above 700 feet. 
At this point begins the table-land of Mount Paran. 
This district was not included in the actual territory 
of Israel. Both Mount Ephraim and Mount Judah 
have a slope from east to west. Between the moun- 
tain-side and the Mediterranean Sea, from north to 
south, that is, from Carmel to the southern steppe, 
extends a plain of increasing breadth, which is called 
"the Plain of Sharon," or the "low country" (she- 
felaJi}. In the east the mountain declines towards 
the Jordan. Some peaks of this mountain acquired 
a special significance. Such were the two hills by 
the side of Shechem, Gerizim, " the mountain of the 
blessing" (2,650 feet), and Ebal, " the mountain of 
the curse" (2,700 feet); Bethel, in the east (2,400 
feet); Mizpeh, some hours' journey from the subse- 
quent capital; Mount Zion (2,610 feet); and the 
Mount of Olives (2,700 feet). This peculiar and 
greatly varied configuration of the land had its effect 
not only upon the productions of the soil, but also 
upon the character of the people. From north to 
south, Palestine is divided into three belts. The 
broad mountainous tract occupies the centre; the 
low land (shefelaJi] extends from the west to the sea, 
and the meadows (kikkar, arabotli] from the east to 
the Jordan. In the lowland the climate is mild; in 
the mountains, it is severe during the rainy season, 
but temperate in the summer. In the district of the 
Jordan the heat continues during the greater part of 
the year. 


With the exception of the Jordan, the land has 
no rivers which retain their waters throughout the 
year ; but even this river, owing to its precipitous 
course, is not navigable. The Jordan rises from 
three sources in the slopes of Hermon. At first it 
runs sluggishly, and before entering the Lake of 
Merom it divides into small streams. On emerging 
from the lake, its waters are united in a narrow 
basalt bed, and flow into the Lake of Galilee. On 
issuing thence, the Jordan widens, rushes over 
rocks, and, after forming many rapids in its swift 
course, empties itself and disappears in the Dead 
Sea. During spring-time, when the melting snow 
of Hermon swells the waters, this river fertilises 
the adjoining low-lying plains, especially those on its 
eastern bank. 

The other streams, including the Jarmuk and 
Jabbok, become dry in the hot summer season. 
Such winter streams (nechaliwi), nevertheless, en- 
hance the productiveness of the district through 
which they flow, and the cultivated lands are situated 
on the banks of these intermittent streams. The 
fertility of the soil is also favoured by the small 
springs which flow down the hills without being 
collected into rivulets. The districts devoid of 
springs are supplied with drinking-water by the rain, 
which is gathered in cisterns excavated in the rocks. 

The greater portion of Palestine is blessed with an 
abundant yield of produce. This is due to the nature 
of the soil, and to the copious drainage from the high- 
lands of Lebanon, Hermon (Anti-Lebanon), with 
their spurs, as well as to the rain which falls twice a 
year. The land flowed " with milk and honey," and 
has retained this characteristic even to the present 
day, wherever the industry of man is active. It is 
decidedly a beautiful land "of brooks of water, of 
fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and 
hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig- 
trees, and pomegranates ; a land of the oil-olive, and 

CH. ii. FERTILITY. 47 

of honey ; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without 
scarceness, thou shalt not want anything in it; a 
land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills 
thou mayest dig brass." 1 The plains are especially 
fruitful, and yield to the laborious cultivator two 
crops a year. But also the land lying to the 
north of the plain of Jezreel is by no means sterile. 
In olden times it had such an abundance of olive 
trees as to give rise to the saying that the husband- 
man " dips his foot in oil." 

The central district to the south of the great plain, 
which belonged to Ephraim and Manasseh, rewarded 
its toilers with rich harvests. On all sides springs 
gush forth from the rocky fissures; and as their 
waters gather together, they attain sufficient force to 
drive the mills, besides supplying the soil with 
ample moisture. The land of the sons of Joseph 
was blessed, 

" With the fruit of the heavens above, 
And of the deep that coucheth beneath ; 
And with precious fruit brought forth by the sun, 
And with the precious things put forth by the moon." 1 

The hill-sides were adorned with blooming gardens, 
and with vineyards exuberantly laden with grapes. 
The mountains, overshadowed by forests of tere- 
binths, oaks and yew trees, favoured the fertility of 
the valleys. 

In favourable situations the palm-tree produced a 
superabundance of sweet fruit, the juicy contents of 
which sometimes even trickled to the ground. 
There was less fruitfulness in the southern tracts, 
owing to the numerous chalk hills and the small 
number of valleys. But even here good pastures 
were found for the herds. Below Hebron the 
extreme south, with its barren rocks and strips of 
sand, presents a dreary aspect. The burning wind, 
in its passage over the desert, dries the atmosphere, 

J Deut. viii. 7-9. " Deut. xxxiii. 13, 14. 


and impoverishes the soil. This district was there- 
fore rightly termed Negeb, " the arid land." A few 
oases, which are found here and there, owed their 
verdure to the presence of water, which counteracted 
the effect of the scorching heat. In such humid 
places the vegetation became excee'dingly luxuriant 
under the care of diligent cultivators. To the idler 
this land yielded no produce. 

The climate was made salubrious by the sea 
breezes and the free currents of mountain air, the 
inhabitants being, therefore, of a sturdy frame. Here 
were no miasmatic swamps to poison the atmosphere. 
Diseases and the ravages of plagues are to this day 
of rare occurrence, and only caused by infections 
imported from elsewhere. Compared with the vast 
dominions of the ancient world, Palestine is extremely 
small. From some lofty central points one can, at the 
same time, survey the eastern and the western fron- 
tiers, the waves of the Mediterranean and the surface 
of the Dead Sea, together with the Jordan, and the 
opposite mountains of Gilead. A view from Mount 
Hermon is still more commanding, and presents 
beautiful and extremely diversified landscapes. 
Throughout the greater part of the year the air is 
so exceedingly pure and transparent as to afford a 
delusive conception of the distance between the eye 
and the surrounding scenery. Even remote objects 
appear to be placed within close proximity. 

Sensitive hearts and reflecting minds may well be 
said to perceive " the finger of God " in this region, 
where "Tabor and Hermon praise His name." 
Lofty peaks and undulating crests of mountains are 
seen in alternation with verdant plains, and their 
images are reflected upon the glittering surface of 
many waters. These towering heights, far from 
overburdening and depressing the mind, draw it 
away from the din of the noisy world, and call forth 
cheering and elevating emotions. 

If the beholder be endowed with the slightest 


spark of poetic sentiment, it is brought into life and 
action by the attractive sight of this panorama. 
From the varied charms of scenic beauty the most 
gifted men of this land drew their inspiration for 
their pensive poetry. Neither the Greeks nor the 
Romans had a conception of this species of poesy, 
which has its root- in a deep consciousness of the 
greatness of the Creator. Nations of a later epoch 
became adepts in this poetry only by being the 
disciples of Israel. Whilst the eye surveyed, from 
a prominent standpoint, the objects encircled by an 
extensive horizon, the soul was impressed with the 
sublime idea of infinitude an idea which, without 
such aid, could only be indirectly and artificially con- 
veyed to the intellectual faculties. Single-hearted 
and single-minded men, in the midst of such sur- 
roundings, became imbued with a perception of the 
grandeur and infinity of the Godhead, whose guid- 
ing power the people of Israel acknowledged in the 
early stages of their history. They recognised the 
existence of the same power in the ceaseless agita- 
tion of the apparently boundless ocean; in the 
periodical return and withdrawal of fertilising 
showers; in the dew which descended from the 
heights into the valleys ; in the daily wonders of 
nature hidden from human sight where the horizon 
is narrow, but inviting admiration and devotion 
where the range of view is wide and open. 

" He that formeth the mountains and createth the winds, 
He who turneth the morning into darkness, 
Who treadeth upon the high places of the earth, 
The Lord, the God of hosts is his name." 1 

At a later period the religious conviction gained 
ground that God's omnipotence is equally manifested 
in ordaining the events of history as in regulating 
the succession of physical phenomena ; that the same 
God who ordained the unchanging laws of nature, 

'Amos iv. 13. 


reveals himself in the rise and fall of nations. This 
conviction is a specific product of the Israelitish 
mind. Historical vicissitudes and natural surround- 
ings conspired to sharpen its faculties for everything 
extraordinary and marvellous within the sphere of 
existing things. 

The land of Gilead had the same characteristics 
that appertained to the region on the other side of 
the Jordan. This district, originally owned by the 
Amorites, and by the kings of Sihon and Og, was 
now held by the sons of Reuben and Gad. From 
the summits of this territory also immense tracts of 
land were visible at a single view ; but nothing 
beyond a mere blue streak could be seen of the 
distant ocean. This side of the Jordan was, there- 
fore, less than the opposite side, endowed with poetic 
suggestiveness. The land of Gilead gave birth to 
no poet, it was the home of only one prophet, and 
his disposition was marked by a fierceness which 
accorded well with the rude and rough character of 
the territory in which he was born. The Jordan 
formed both a geographical and an intellectual land- 

At the time of Israel's conquests, Canaan was 
dotted with cities and fortified places, in which the 
invaders found some rudiments of civic culture. 
Gilead, on the other hand, contained but few towns, 
and these lay far apart from each other. 

The territories to the west of the Jordan had only 
partially been subjected and allotted. Large and 
important tracts of land were still in possession of 
the original inhabitants, but it can no longer be 
determined whether it was through the remissness 
of Joshua that the land of Canaan was not com- 
pletely conquered. In his advanced years, Joshua 
did not display such vigour of action as was shown 
by his teacher, Moses. Gradually he appears to 
have lost the energy that is necessary in a comman- 
der. His followers of the tribes of Ephraim and 


Manasseh had already obtained the most productive 
part of the land ; they were now resting on their 
laurels, and damped the warlike impetus of their 
brethren. The excitements of the early warfare 
having subsided, each of the tribes, or groups of 
tribes was concerned only with its individual affairs. 
This isolation prevented the several tribes from 
rounding off their territories by conquests from the 
original inhabitants of Canaan. 

The Canaanites had, even before the invasion by 
the Israelites, been in possession of sacrificial altars 
and places for pilgrimage, with which myths calcu- 
lated to satisfy the uncultured mind were connected. 
The high mountains, bordered by pleasant valleys, 
had been invested with sacred attributes. Mount 
Carmel had long been looked upon as a holy spot, 
whence the heathen priests announced their oracles. 
Mount Tabor was likewise regarded as holy. At the 
foot of Hermon, in a fine fertile valley, there stood 
a sanctuary dedicated to Baal Gad or Baal Hermon. 
After the conquest, these shrines were probably, in 
the first instance, visited only by the strangers who 
had cast their lot with the Israelites ; but their 
example was soon followed by the ignorant portion 
of their Hebrew companions. In the interior of the 
country, where the people could not discriminate 
between paganism and the divine law of Israel, and 
still remembered the Egyptian superstitions, they 
were prone to join in the sacrificial rites of the pagan 
idolaters. The north, beyond Mount Tabor, like- 
wise contained groups of the Canaanite population. 
The Danites, whose neglected treatment has already 
been noticed, were stationed in the centre of the 
Amorites. Their tenure of land was insignificant in 
extent. The tribes of Judah and Simeon were com- 
pletely cut off from the other tribes. They were 
placed among pagans, whose occupations were 
divided between those of the shepherd and the free- 
booter. The Jebusites formed a barrier between the 


two southern tribes and their northern brethren. 
This division between the tribes was only removed 
after the conquest of Jebus (the city subsequently 
named Jerusalem). If Joshua in his declining years 
beheld with satisfaction the realisation of the Patri- 
archal promises, this satisfaction was not without its 
alloy. As in the lives of individuals, so in the lives 
of nations, the practical turn of events is liable to 
disappoint all anticipations. It is true the land of 
Canaan now belonged to the Israelites; but their 
conquests were of a precarious nature, and might 
again be wrested from them by a combined attack 
on the part of the dispossessed natives. The closing 
days of Joshua's life were therefore troubled by the 
consideration of this dangerous contingency, and by 
the fact that he had no successor whom the several 
tribes, especially the tribe of Ephraim, might be 
willing to follow. His death left the people in a state 
of utter bereavement, but, it seems, it failed even to 
understand the gravity of the national loss. No such 
grief took hold of them as was evinced at the death of 
their first leader. Yet there remained one ideal which 
Joshua bequeathed to the people, the prospect and 
the expectation that at some future time the entire 
land would become their undivided property. Hopes, 
to which a people clings persistently, carry within 
themselves the chances of fulfilment. Severe trials 
continued, however, to await them before the ideal 
of an undivided possession of Canaan could be fully 



The Phoenicians, Aramaeans, Philistines, Idumaeans Their Customs 
and Mythology The Moabites and Ammonites Intercourse of 
the Israelites with their Neighbours and Adoption of their 
Manners Disintegration of the Tribes Consequent Weakness 
Temporary Deliverers. 

THE sons of Israel, who had been severely tried 
in Egypt, seemed destined to undergo trials still 
more severe. Their new scene of activity was sur- 
rounded by various nations, and they could have 
escaped the influences of their surroundings only 
by either destroying the homes of the bordering 
populations, or by being proof against the strongest 
temptations. The neighbouring Pncenicians, Canaan- 
ites, Aramaeans, Philistines, Idumaeans, Moabites, 
Ammonites, Amalekites, Arabs and half-castes of 
Arabs, had their own peculiar customs, manners, 
and religious observances. The tribes came into 
more or less close contact with their neighbours, 
and were soon dominated by the same law of 
attraction and assimilation that is felt even in 
more cultured spheres. Hence arose the strange 
phenomenon, during a prolonged period of Israel's 
history, of a nation's forfeiting every species of self- 
dependence, regaining it, again relapsing, and thus 
passing from change to change. 

But these changes eventually gave shape and tena- 
city to the character of the people. In the interim, 
however, Israel became intimately united with the 
Phoenicians; the northern tribes of Asher, Zebulon 
and Issachar stood in especially close connection 
with them. This people had already, particularly in 
Sidon, attained a high degree of culture, when the 


Israelites entered Canaan. But, from an ethical and 
a religious point of view, they were as backward as 
the most uncultured races of men, with the excep- 
tion, perhaps, of the Egyptians, than whom they were 
on a higher level. 

The Canaanites worshipped the male and female 
divinities, Baal and Astarte, who, in some cities, were 
designated by the names of Adonis and Baaltis. 
Baal was intended to be a personification of the 
sun, and Astarte of the moon; they did not, how- 
ever, figure as luminous beings within the celestial 
space, but as the procreative powers of nature. 
The Canaanites also worshipped the then known 
seven planets termed Cabiri, i. e. the Mighty; as 
an eighth god they adored Ashmun, the restorer 
of health, who was depicted as a serpent. The 
rites, by which men and women dedicated them- 
selves to the male and female deities, were of a 
loathsome description. The degraded priestesses 
of the temple were termed "consecrated women" 

In honour of Astarte, half-frantic youths and 
men mutilated themselves, and wore female attire. 
They then ^wandered about as beggars, collecting 
aid for their sanctuary, or rather for their priests, 
and were called "holy men" (Kedeshim). Such 
proceedings formed a main part of the religious 
discipline among the Phoenicians, and their abomina- 
tions were constantly displayed before the Israelites. 

The southern tribes, on the other hand, main- 
tained friendly relations with the Philistines. This 
people had emigrated from Caphtor (Cydonia), a 
town on the island of Crete, and their territory had 
three ports Gaza in the south, Ashdod ( Azotus) in the 
north, and Ascalon, midway between these two towns. 
In the interior, the Philistines occupied the cities of 
Gath and Ekron. This group of five cities (Penta- 
polis) formed a small district, extending as far as the 
Egyptian frontier, and its population acquired much 


power and influence. On this account, the Greeks 
and the Egyptians designated the entire country by 
the name of Palestine (V. <?., land of the Philistines). 
Most probably the Philistines were seafarers and 
merchants like the Phoenicians. With these occupa- 
tions, however, they combined the lust of conquest, 
whilst the Phoenicians, on the contrary, confined 
themselves to peaceful pursuits. 

The Philistines, having a narrow seaboard, were 
induced to seek -territorial extension on the eastern 
side. The religious system of this people was 
essentially similar to that of the other Canaanites, 
and agreed, in fact, with that of the different nations 
of antiquity. They reverenced the procreative power 
of nature under the name of Dagon. This deity 
was depicted in a form half human, half piscine. 

The Philistines had numerous soothsayers, wiz- 
ards, and cloud-seers {Meonenim}, who predicted 
future events from various auguries. 

With the Idumseans, the Israelites had less inter- 
course. The territory of the former extended from 
Mount Seir to the Gulf of the Red Sea. It is 
thought that at a remote time they navigated this 
sea, and traded with Arabia. Their mountains 
contained metals, including gold. The Idumseans 
had the reputation of being sagacious and prac- 
tical. In early ages they were governed by kings, 
who apparently were elective. On the north side 
of the Idumseans, to the east of the Dead Sea, the 
Moabites and the Ammonites were neighbours of 
the tribes of Reuben and Gad. Their lascivious 
idolatry was also dedicated to a Baal on Mount Peor. 
Among the Ammonites, Baal was called Milcom or 
Malcom. Besides this deity, the god Chemosh was 
worshipped by these two nations. Amidst such 
surroundings, the Israelites could not well preserve 
their own political independence, and much less their 
spiritual peculiarity; nor could they keep midway 
between isolation and social intercourse among popu- 
lations akin to them in language and descent. 


From the first, the Israelites had as many antago- 
nists as neighbours. These, it is true, had no con- 
ception that Israel's doctrines tended to effect the 
destruction of their gods, altars, and sacred groves 
the abolition, in fact, of senseless idolatry. Nor 
were they able to discriminate between their own 
gross materialism and the lofty, hidden aims of 
the invading Israelites. The old inhabitants simply 
abhorred the new-comers, who had entered with 
drawn swords to deprive them of their territories. 
In dealing with overt or secret enemies, the Israelites 
had only the choice between resorting to exterminat- 
ing warfare or making amicable concessions. War- 
fare on a large scale was not even practicable ; since 
Joshua's death, they had no accredited leader, and no 
plan for concerted action. They certainly did not seem 
to desire more than to live on neighbourly terms 
with the adjoining populations. This temporary 
truce might easily satisfy the Canaanites and Phoeni- 
cians, who were mainly concerned in keeping the 
high-roads open for ccmmercial dealings. The 
Idumaeans, the Philistines, and the Moabites were 
the only nations who sought to do injury to the 
Israelites. Every recollection of the troubles en- 
dured in the desert made the Israelites more 
desirous of living in undisturbed tranquillity. For 
this reason they took but a slight interest in the 
affairs of their fellow-tribesmen, and they allowed 
their sons and daughters to intermarry with non- 
Israelites. These alliances were most frequent 
among the border tribes, who found a strong 
element of security in this intimate union with their 
neighbours, the more so as in the early days of their 
history such intermarriages were not yet placed 
under the ban of interdiction. The tribes in the 
interior for instance, those of Ephraim, Manasseh 
and Benjamin were less in favour of intermar- 
riages; least of all did the exclusive Levites approve 
of a union with non-Israelites. From an intermar- 


riage with the heathen to a participation in their 
idolatrous rites there was but one step. 

In rural districts the Israelites could easily be led 
to join the pagan rites, as their memories were still 
attached to Egyptian superstitions, and they were 
unable to discriminate between pagan discipline and 
the divine doctrine of Sinai. By degrees this idola- 
trous worship gained ground among the majority of 
the Israelites, who were fascinated by the arts and 
accomplishments of the Phoenicians. 

The Sanctuary at Shiloh, where the sons of Aaron, 
together with the Levites, conducted the sacerdotal 
rites, was not situated in a sufficiently central posi- 
tion for tribes settled at great distances, nor was it 
in high favour among those living within easier 
reach. The neighbouring tribes were displeased 
with the arrogance and the egotism of the sons of 
Ephraim. In the early stages of Israel's history, the 
performance of sacrifices was held to be an essential 
part of divine worship, and of communion with the 
Deity. Persons clinging to the observance of sacri- 
ficial rites either erected domestic altars, or con- 
nected themselves with a temple in their vicinity. 
This tendency remained unchecked, as there was no 
chief or leader to inculcate a proper adoration of the 
Godhead. The Levites, who were intended to be 
the teachers of the people, had been widely dispersed 
among the different tribes, and dwelt chiefly in the 
smaller towns. As they owned no lands, and were 
generally destitute, they exerted no great influence 
upon the people. 

One poor Levite, a grandson of the great Law- 
giver, took priestly service at the shrine of a newly 
manufactured idol, in order to obtain food and 
raiment. The further spread of such worship was 
favoured among the Israelites by the force of sensu- 
ality, by habit, and by the love of imitation. 

At this time the marvellous occurrences in Egypt 
and in the desert were still vividly remembered by 


the several tribes, and formed a link of fellowship 
among them, notwithstanding the disintegrating 
effect of idolatry. The ancestral history continued 
to be handed down from father to son, and nursed 
the sentiment of a common nationality. An indi- 
vidual or an entire family immersed in affliction 
would then ask, " Where are all his miracles of 
which our fathers told us, saying, Did not the Lord 
bring us up from Egypt?" 

The events witnessed on Mount Sinai remained 
engraven upon the hearts of thoughtful men; nor 
were warning voices wanting to recall the olden days 
of divine mercy, and to rebuke the people on account 
of their idolatry. It appears that the utterances of 
reproof came from the Levites. They, as custodians 
of the tables of the covenant, and as servants in the 
Sanctuary of Shiloh, stood up in days of national 
misfortune, and on other occasions, to expose the 
corruption of their people. Sometimes they may have 
succeeded in making a deep impression, when they 
described past glories or present sorrows ; but the 
effect of such addresses was only evanescent. The 
people were always predisposed to fraternise with 
strangers and to imitate their practices. One 
adverse condition produced another. The selfish- 
ness of the men of Ephraim induced their brother 
tribes to care only for self-preservation. The chances 
of uniting the Israelites under one commander were 
neglected. This again drove the divided tribes to 
confederacies with the pagans, and they became 
more closely united with them through the ties of 
family and of superstitious worship ; hence came 
internal disunion and national degeneracy. The 
indigenous population of Palestine no sooner dis- 
covered the influence they were able to exercise, than 
they began to treat the Israelites as intruders, who 
should be humbled, if not crushed altogether. 

Judges vi. 13. 


Sorrowful days befell the Israelites after Joshua 
had closed his eyes. One tribe after another was 
reduced to servitude. At length, when the suf- 
ferings of the people became unendurable, public- 
spirited men came to the rescue, and performed 
deeds of remarkable valour. These heroic deliverers 
were commonly known as "judges" (Shofetim). In 
an emergency they would lead one tribe, or several 
tribes to battle; but they were incapable of uniting 
the entire people of Israel, or of keeping the col- 
lected tribes under permanent control. It was alto- 
gether beyond the ability of these deliverers to bring 
order into this national disorganisation, or to abolish 
the abuse of idolatry, and enforce a strict observance 
of religion. They, in fact, shared the failings of 
their age, and had only a faint comprehension of the 
Sinaitic doctrines. 



Animosity of the Idumceans Othniel, a Deliverer Eglon, King of 
Moab The Canaanite King, Jabin Sisera, his General The 
Prophetess ami Poetess Deborah Barak Victory near Tabor- 
Early Hebrew Poetry Sufferings through Nomads The Hero 
Gideon (Jerubbaalj Victory in the Plain of Jezreel Commence- 
ment of Prosperity Abimelech Feud with the Shechemites 
Jair the Gileadite Hostilities of the Amalekites and the Philis- 
tines Jephthah Samson Zebulunite Judges. 

OTHNIEL, the son of Kenaz, a brother, and at the same 
time the son-in-law of Caleb, was the first warrior- 
judge. Having collected a brave band of combatants, 
he advanced against an Idumsean 1 king, and deliv- 
ered the southern tribes of Judah and Simeon. But 
his enterprise did not bring the least advantage to 
the rest of the tribes, and remained almost unknown 
on the other side of Mount Ephraim. The daring 
act of the Benjamite, Ehud, the son of Gera, was of 
greater significance. The Israelites being oppressed 
by the Moabites, Ehud did not immediately invite 
his injured companions to make an open attack upon 
the foe. He first sought to put the hostile king, 
Eglon, out of the way. One day he presented him- 
self before the king under the pretext that he was 
the bearer of a gift from his people in token of their 
submission. Being alone with Eglon, he thrust a 
double-edged sword into the body of his victim, and 
fled after having locked the door of the audience 
chamber. He then summoned the men of Ephraim 
and Benjamin, and occupied the fords of the Jordan 
so as to cut off the retreat of the Moabites, who had 
established themselves on the west side of that river. 

'Judges iii. 8 and 10 must be read " king of Edom " (QH^) ins tead 


The Moabites were then totally routed. After this 
victory, the western tribes of Israel remained for a 
long time unmolested by the people of Moab. 

From another quarter, the Israelites were harassed 
by the Philistines. Shamgar, the son of Anath, prob- 
ably of the tribe of Benjamin, chastised the assailants 
with a weapon extemporised out of an ox-goad. 
Such sporadic acts of bravery, inadequate to improve 
the situation of the Israelites, tended only to aggra- 
vate their troubles. Jabin, a Canaanite king, joined 
by some of the neighbouring rulers, seemed bent 
upon exterminating the Israelites. The high-roads 
became insecure, and wayfarers had to seek devious 
byways. At that juncture, Israel was without a 
leader, or a man of tried courage. A woman, a 
poetess and prophetess, Deborah, the wife of Lapi- 
doth, then came forward as " a mother in Israel." 
With her inspiriting speech she animated the timo- 
rous people, and changed them from cowards into 
heroes. Urged by Deborah, Barak, the son of Abi- 
noam, reluctantly undertook to lead the Israelites 
against the enemy; and, at her bidding, the most 
valiant men in Israel joined the national army. 
Meeting near Mount Tabor, they discomfited the 
Canaanites, who were commanded by Jabin's gen- 
eral, the hitherto unvanquished Sisera. The power 
of Jabin was henceforth broken. The commander 
himself now had to flee for his life, and was 
slain byjael, the wife of Heber, a member of the 
Kenite tribe, which maintained an amicable alliance 
with the Israelites. In a hymn known as " The Song 
of Deborah," the praises were sung of this unex- 
pected victory, and of the mercy which God had 
bestowed upon His people. But these hostilities 
had not yet reached their end. The restless nations 
of the neighbourhood continued to inflict heavy blows 
upon the Israelites, who either were too weak or 
too disunited to resist such attacks. The roving 
Midianites periodically ravaged Palestine. At har- 


vest time, they would cross the Jordan with their 
irresistible hordes, bringing with them their tents, 
their camels, and their herds. They came " like a 
flight of locusts," emptied the barns, led off the flocks, 
the herds and the asses, and then quitted the impov- 
erished and despoiled land. The rich and fertile 
plain of Jezreel, with the adjacent northern and 
southern territory, was especially exposed to these 
incursions. To save their scanty means of sub- 
sistence, the owners of the land concealed their pro- 
visions in caverns and other hiding places. The 
insignificant gleanings of wheat had to be threshed 
in caves intended for wine-presses. In their severe 
trials the tribes prayed unto the God of their fathers, 
and assembled at Shiloh, where they were reproved 
for their sinfulness by "a man of God" probably a 
Levite who reminded them that their misfortunes 
were the consequence of their iniquities. Exhorta- 
tions of this kind seem to have made a deep impres- 
sion upon at least one man of note. This man was 
Jerubbaal, also named Gideon, of the tribe of 
Manasseh. In Ophrah, his native place, in a grove 
consecrated to Baal or to Astarte, there was an altar, 
which Jerubbaal destroyed, and he then raised 
another in honour of the God of Israel. The men of 
Ophrah, enraged at this sacrilege, were about to 
stone Jerubbaal, but he gathered round him tribes- 
men of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali,and 
encamped at Endor to the north of Mount Moreh ; 
there he dismissed the timid and faint-hearted, re- 
taining only a picked force of 300 warriors. In the 
dead of night he fell upon the sleeping enemy, 
whom he terrified with the shrill blast of horns, 
the brandishing of burning torches, and the war- 
cry, "For God and for Gideon." The unprepared 
Midianites were utterly routed, and were forced to 
retreat across the Jordan. During many ages " the 
day of Midian " was remembered as a triumph which 
a handful of brave Israelites had accomplished. 

CH. iv. GIDEON. 63 

Gideon then pursued the two fugitive Midianite 
kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, on the other side of 
the Jordan, chastised those Israelites who refused 
him and his famishing warriors the needful provi- 
sions, and inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Mid- 
ianites, from which they never recovered. The people 
thus delivered offered to make him their king, an 
honour which he declined, both for himself and his 
descendants. It appears that he made Ophrah a 
centre for pilgrims, to the detriment of the less con- 
veniently situated sanctuary of Shiloh. This aroused 
the jealousy of the men of Ephraim, who, after the 
death of the hero, were involved in violent conflicts 
with the men of the tribe of Manasseh. Gideon had, 
after his great victories, carried the rich treasures of 
the vanquished enemies into the land. The towns of 
Israel became seats of wealth and luxury. Phoenician 
caravans could henceforth safely journey through the 
land. Covenants were concluded with the trafficking 
strangers, who were placed under the protection of 
the tutelar Baal-Berith (Baal of the Covenant). The 
jealous men of Ephraim, who sought to foment dis- 
sension among the seventy sons and grandsons of 
Gideon, found in Abimelech, one of his sons, an 
unscrupulous ally. This Abimelech, being the son 
of a woman of Shechem, was elected by the Shech- 
emites to be their leader. His first act was to put 
his brothers to death. Only Jotham, the youngest 
of them, escaped. On Mount Gerizim, Jotham pro- 
nounced his trenchant parable of the trees, who, in 
their search of a ruler, met with refusals from the 
fruitful olive, fig, and vine trees. The prickly bramble 
(Atad) was the only one who would accept the gov- 
ernment; but he warned the trees that if they 
refused to acknowledge him as ruler, he would send 
forth a fire to consume all the trees of the Lebanon. 
The parable found its application in the subsequent 
hostilities between the men of Shechem and Abim- 
elech, whose cruelty ended in his death at the hand 
of his own armour-bearer. 


After the fall of Abimelech the cis-Jordanic tribes 
seem to have retrograded, while the men of Ma- 
nasseh or Gilead, on the other side of the Jordan, 
invaded the high land of the Hauran, and took pos- 
session of sixty rock-built cities. This district then 
received the name Havvoth Jair. At that time the 
Israelites suffered a shock from two sides, which 
caused further disintegration among them. On the 
one hand they were attacked by the Ammonites, and 
on the other, by the Philistines. These attacks dis- 
tracted them, and rendered them incapable of resist- 
ance. The Ammonites appear to have driven the 
Israelites from their open places, after which they 
attacked the strongholds. These incursions were 
successful against the tribes of Ephraim and Judah. 

On the opposite side, the Philistines assailed the 
neighbouring tribes of Israel, and sought to subdue 
them. They first attacked the tribe of Dan ; nor did 
they spare the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. Even 
these disasters did not arouse the tribes to make a 
combined resistance. The trans-Jordanic tribes had 
turned to the Ephraimites for help; but the latter 
took no part in the contest, either from selfishness or 
because the inhabitants of Shechem and other 
Ephraimite towns had been enfeebled by Abimelech. 

In those troubled times there arose two deliverers, 
who drove off the enemy, and procured temporary 
relief. Jephthah and Samson, two adventurers, 
disregarding order and discipline, brought their 
powers to bear, as much for evil as for good. They 
both displayed extraordinary activity; but while 
Jephthah was a warrior who conquered his ene- 
mies by warlike measures, Samson, though endowed 
with great strength and daring, appears to have 
overcome his enemies by stratagems and unexpected 

Jephthah, the Gileadite, of the tribe of Manasseh, 
having been banished by his tribesmen, began to 
lead the life of a highwayman. Daring associates, 


who thought little of law and order, joined him and 
appointed him their leader. When attacked by the 
Ammonites, the men of Gilead remembered their 
outlawed kinsman, whose bold deeds had come to 
their knowledge. Some of the elders of his tribe 
went to him, and urged him to aid them with his 
troops, and help them to expel the enemy from their 
territories. Full of proud indignation, Jephthah 
rebuked them with the words, " You hated me, and 
drove me from my father's house ; wherefore do you 
come to me now when it goes ill with you ? ?>1 The 
Gileadite elders, however, entreated him more 
urgently, and promised, if he should vanquish the 
enemy, that they would recognise him as chief in 
Gilead. Upon this Jephthah determined to return 
with them. He then sent a formal message to the 
Ammonites, demanding that they should desist from 
their incursions into the territory of the Israelites; 
and when they refused on the pretext of ancient 
rights, he traversed the districts of Gilead and 
Manasseh in order to enlist warriors. Jephthah 
knew well how to gather many brave youths round 
him, and with these he proceeded against the 
Ammonites, defeated them, and wrested twenty cities 
out of their hands. After Jephthah had gained these 
decisive victories, the Ephraimites began a quarrel 
with him ; and as previously, in the case of the 
heroic Gideon, they were displeased that he had 
obtained victories without their aid. 

This led to a civil war, for Jephthah was not sc 
submissive to the proud Ephraimites as the judge of 
Ophrah had been. The men of Ephraim crossed 
the Jordan, near the town of Zaphon, and assumed 
a warlike attitude ; but Jephthah punished them for 
their presumption, defeated them, and blocked their 
road of retreat on the banks of the Jordan. Jeph- 
thah might have strengthened the tribes beyond the 

'Judges xi. 7. 


Jordan, but his rule lasted only six years, and he left 
no son to succeed him. He had only one daughter, 
and about her a deeply touching story has been pre- 
served, which describes how she became the victim 
of her father's rash vow. 

Whilst the hero of Gilead was subduing the 
Ammonites by force of arms, Samson was fighting 
the Philistines, who claimed from the tribe to which 
Samson belonged the coast-line of Joppa, formerly a 
part of their possessions. The tribe of Dan smarted 
under their yoke, but had not the power to effect 
a change. Samson was not supported in his enter- 
prises by the various tribes, as Jephthah had been. 
They greatly feared the Philistines; thus Samson 
was compelled to have recourse to stratagems, and 
could harm the enemy only by unexpected onslaughts. 
This mode of warfare was censured in the words, 
" Dan shall judge his people like one of the tribes of 
Israel. Dan shall be as a serpent by the way, and 
as an adder in the path, that biteth the horse's heels, 
so that his rider shall fall backwards." 1 

Samson is supposed to have fought during twenty 
years for Israel, without, however, improving the 
state of affairs. Long after his death, the Philistines 
kept the upper hand over the tribes of Dan and 
Benjamin, and also over Judah and Ephraim. The 
rule of the Philistines pressed with increasing weight 
upon Israel. After Samson there arose successively 
three other deliverers, two in the tribe of Zebulun, 
and one in the tribe of Ephraim; but their deeds were 
of so insignificant a character that they have not been 
deemed worthy of mention. Of the two hero-judges 
in Zebulun, only the names and the territory or 
town in which they were buried have been pre- 
served: Ibzan, of Bethlehem in Zebulun, and Elon, 
of the town of Ajalon. Also of the Ephraimite 
judge, Abdon, son of Hillel, the Pirathonite, little is 

Genesis xlix. 16, 17. 


known. It is not even stated against what enemies 
they waged war ; but the fact that the men of 
Zebulun, who at first lived far away from the sea, 
afterwards extended their dwelling-places to the shore, 
leads us to suppose that they supplanted the Canaan- 
ite inhabitants. 



Importance of the Judges -Public Feeling Sanctuary in Shiloh 
Eli and his Sons Defeat by the Philistines Capture of the 
Ark Destruction of Shiloh and the Sanctuary Flight of 
the Aaronites and Levites Death ot Eli The Ark in Philistia 
and in Kirjath Jearim Prophecy re-awakened Samuel in 
Ramah The Order of Prophets or Singers Popular revulsion 
The tribe of Judah Repeated attacks of the Philistines Meet- 
ing at Mizpah Samuel's activity Nob as a place of worship 
Increase in the power of the Philistines and Ammonites The 
tribes desire to have a King Samuel's course of action. 

1 100 ? 1067 B. C. E. 

THE twelve or thirteen warrior-judges had been 
incapable of keeping off the hostile neighbours of 
Israel for any length of time, much less had they 
ensured the permanent safety of the country. Even 
the celebrated Barak, with all his enthusiasm, and 
Gideon and Jephthah with their warlike courage 
could succeed only in uniting a few of the tribes, but 
were unable to secure or restore the union of the 
entire people. The warrior-judges were, in fact, 
of importance only so long as they repulsed the 
enemy, averted danger, and ensured safety in daily 
life. They wielded no real power, not even over 
the tribes to which their prowess brought help and 
freedom ; nor did they possess any rights by which 
they could enforce obedience. The isolation of each 
tribe, and the division amongst the several tribes con- 
tinued, in spite of temporary victories; the actual weak- 
ness of the country increased rather than diminished. 
Samson's "serpent-like attacks and adder's bites" did 
not deter the Philistines from considering the tribes 
within reach as their subjects, or more correctly 
speaking as their slaves, nor did it prevent them from 


ill-treating the Israelites. Jephthah's victories over 
the Ammonites did not cause the enemy to relinquish 
his claims over the eastern tribes of Reuben, Gad, 
and the half of Manasseh. 

After the deaths of Jephthah and Samson, the 
state of affairs became still more dismal. It was, 
however, precisely this sense of extreme weakness 
which led to a gradual recovery of strength. Several 
tribal leaders must have come to the conclusion that 
this connection with neighbouring populations, and 
the adoption of idolatrous customs had brought 
the people to the verge of ruin. The remembrance 
of the God of their fathers no doubt once more 
revived in their hearts, and awakened their sleeping 
consciences to a sense of duty. The men who had 
been thus aroused called to mind the Sanctuary 
dedicated to their God at Shiloh, and they repaired 

Towards the close of the judges' period, Shiloh 
once more became a general rallying point. Here 
the Levites, the guardians of the Law, still resided, 
and they used their opportunities to urge, at the 
meetings held in times of distress, that a denial of 

o ' 

Israel's God and the worship of Baal had brought 
all this misery upon the people. There also lived 
in Shiloh a priest who was worthy of his ancestors 
Aaron and Phineas. He was the first Aaronite, 
after a considerable time, whose name has been 
recorded for posterity. He was simply called Eli, 
without the addition of his father's name, and the 
only title of honour he bore was that of the priest 
at Shiloh. Eli is described as a venerable old man, 
on whose lips were words of gentleness, and who 
was incapable of giving utterance to severe censure, 
even of his unworthy sons. 

This aged man could not fail to exercise a bene- 
ficial influence, and win warm adherents to the Law 
which he represented, if only by the example of his 
moral worth, and by the holy life he led. When 


Shiloh was visited, in ever-increasing numbers, by 
desponding worshippers from the tribes of Ephraim 
and Benjamin, as also from the tribes on the trans- 
Jordanic side, some were murmuring at the suffer- 
ings imposed upon them, and others complaining of 
the hard treatment they endured at the hands of the 
Ammonites; but Eli would exhort them to rely on 
the ever ready help of the God of Israel, and to give 
up the worship of strange gods. 

By such exhortations he might have brought about 
a better state of mind among his hearers, if the 
respect felt for him had been likewise enjoyed by his 
two sons, Hophni and Phineas. They, however, did 
not walk in the ways of their father; and when the 
people and Eli were overtaken by severe misfor- 
tunes, these were supposed to be a punishment of 
heaven for the sins of Eli's sons, and for the weak 
indulgence displayed by the High Priest. 

The Philistines still held sway over the tribes in 
their vicinity, and made repeated attacks and raids 
on Israel's lands. The tribes attacked became so far 
skilled in warfare that they no longer sought to 
oppose the enemy in irregular skirmishes, but met 
them in open battle. The Israelites encamped on 
the hill Eben-ha-Ezer, and the Philistines in the plain 
near Aphek. As the latter possessed iron war- 
chariots they proved superior to the Israelites, of 
whom four thousand are supposed to have fallen in 
battle. The Israelite warriors, however, did not take 
to flight, but kept to their posts. 

In accordance with the counsel of the elders, the 
Ark of the Covenant was brought from Shiloh, it 
being believed that its presence would ensure 
victory. Eli's sons were appointed to escort it. 
Nevertheless, the second battle was even more 
disastrous than the first. The Israelite troops 
fled in utter confusion ; the Ark of the Covenant 
was captured by the Philistines, and Hophni and 
Phineas, who attended it, were killed. The Philis- 


tines pursued the fleeing troops, and spread terror in 
every direction. Breathless with fear, a messenger 
of evil tidings arrived in Shiloh, and brought the sad 
news to the anxious people, and to the high priest 
Eli, who was sitting at the gate. 

The news that the Ark of the Covenant had been 
captured affected the aged priest even more than that 
of the death of his sons ; he dropped down dead from 
his seat. It now seemed that all glory had departed 
from the house of Israel. The victorious Philistines, 
no longer content to make foraging expeditions 
through the country, forced their way from west to 
east until they reached the district of Shiloh. They 
destroyed that town, together with the Tabernacle, 
which had been a witness to the blissful days of 
Moses. A later poet describes this time of trial with 
a heavy heart. 1 

The strength and courage of the people were 
entirely overcome by this defeat. Those tribes which 
until now had been foremost in every encounter 
were crushed. The tribe of Ephraim suffered 
though not undeservedly most severely by the 
overthrow of the Sanctuary, which, in Eli's time, had 
been recognised as a place for popular meetings. 
Every chance of union, especially amongst the 
northern tribes, who, however, had not been con- 
cerned in the disastrous strife, seemed to be cut off. 

The Philistines were impressed with the idea that 
by capturing the Ark of the Covenant which they 
supposed to be the safeguard of the Israelites and 
by destroying the Sanctuary, they had vanquished 
the Israelite people. But they were painfully unde- 
ceived. As soon as they had carried off the Ark of 
the Covenant to the neighbouring town of Ashdod, 
the country was visited by various plagues. In their 
terror, the Philistine princes determined to follow the 
advice of their priests and magicians, and send back 

1 See Psalm Ixxviii. 60-64 ; Jeremiah vii. 12. 


the Ark, accompanied by expiatory offerings, after it 
had been in their possession for seven months. It 
was accordingly sent over the boundaries, and taken 
to the town of " Kirjath Jearim " (Forest Town), situ- 
ated on a hill, where it was guarded by the Levites 
of the district ; but it was so little missed by the 
people that decades passed before they even remem- 
bered their loss. In the eyes of the untutored 
Israelites, neither the contents nor the great age of 
the tablets of the Law preserved in the Ark were of 
great importance. Meanwhile these misfortunes 
the destruction and loss of the Sanctuary at Shiloh 
had aroused a desire for a better state of things. 
Those who were not utterly indifferent could per- 
ceive that the true cause of the evil lay in the 
religious and political dissensions. The Levites, who 
had escaped during the destruction of Shiloh, and 
had settled in other towns, probably prepared the 
public mind for a return to the belief in God. Per- 
haps also the return of the Ark of the Covenant 
from the land of the Philistines exercised an ani- 
mating influence, and raised hopes of better days. 
The longing for the God of Israel became daily 
more widely diffused, and the want of a steadfast 
and energetic leader was keenly felt a leader who 
would bring the misguided people into the right 
path, and raise up those who were bowed down with 
sorrow. And just at the right moment a man ap- 
peared who brought about a crisis in Israel's history. 

Samuel, the son of Elkanah, was the man who 
reunited the long-sundered bonds of communal life 
amongst the Israelites, and thereby averted the 
threatening decay and internal corruption. His 
greatness is illustrated by the circumstance that he 
is placed second to Moses not only in chronological 
sequence, but also in prophetic importance. 1 

Samuel was an elevated character. He displayed 
the same unbending conscientiousness towards him- 

1 Jeremiah xv. i ; Psalms xcix, 6. 

CH. V. SAMUEL. 73 

self as towards others. Living amidst the people, 
coming into daily contact with them, he surpassed 
the men of his time in love of God, purity of heart, 
and unselfishness. In addition to these qualities he 
was distinguished by the gift of prophecy. His 
spiritual eye pierced the clouds which hid the future. 
He proclaimed his prophetic visions, and they came 
to pass. Samuel was descended from one of the 
most distinguished Levitical families, from the same 
Korah who had incited the rebellion against Moses 
in days of old. Samuel inherited intensity of feeling 
from his mother Hannah, whose fervent though 
inaudible prayer has formed a model for all ages. 
At a tender age his mother secured a place for him 
as one of the attendant Levites in the Sanctuary at 
Shiloh. He had daily to open its gates; he took 
part in the sacrificial service, and he passed his nights 
within the precincts of the tabernacle. 

At an early age the gift of prophecy, unknown to 
himself, was awakened within him. Whilst wrapped 
in deep sleep he heard himself called from the 
inner recess of the Sanctuary where the Ark of 
the Covenant reposed. This was Samuel's first 
vision, and happened previous to the defeat of the 
Israelites by the Philistines, the capture of the Ark 
of the Covenant, the death of Eli and his two sons, 
and the destruction of the Sanctuary. Samuel's 
services ceased with the last-named event, and he 
returned to his father's house at Ramah in deep 

The misfortunes which had befallen his people, 
and especially the ruin of Shiloh made an over- 
powering impression on Samuel, whose youthful 
mind was filled with the highest aspirations. In the 
Levitical circle, in which he had grown up, it was a 
fixed belief that the trials undergone by the people 
resulted from their denial of the God of Israel. To 
have no Sanctuary was considered equivalent to 
being without God. 



The sacred writings enshrined in the Ark enjoined 
righteousness, justice, mercy, and the equality of all 
Israelites without distinction of class, as commanded 
by God; but little or nothing was said of sacrifices. 
Samuel, who was nearer by many centuries to the 
origin of the Israelitish nation than were the later 
prophets, was, like them, convinced of the fact that 
God had not ordained the deliverance of His people 
solely in order that they might sacrifice to Him 
only, but that they might carry His laws into effect. 
The contents of these records of the Law represented 
the will of God which the Israelites were to follow 
with implicit obedience. This Law was a living force 
in Samuel's heart, and he grew to be the medium by 
which it became indelibly impressed on the people; 
to give effect to its teaching was the task of his life. 

The fact of having no Sanctuary was, as has been 
shown, deemed equivalent to being abandoned by 
God. Gradually, however, Samuel seems to have 
taken up a different train of thought No Sanctuary, 
no burnt-offerings. " Is sacrifice absolutely neces- 
sary for a pure worship of God, and for a holy life 
in His ways?" This thought became matured within 
him; and later, on a fitting occasion, he preached on 
this theme thus: The sacrifices are of little impor- 
tance; the fat of rams cannot win God's approba- 
tion ; in what, then, should the service of God consist ? 
"In strict obedience to all that He has com- 
manded." During his sojourn in Shiloh, Samuel had 
not only made himself acquainted with the contents 
of the stone tablets which were kept in the Ark of 
the Sanctuary, but he became versed also in the 
book of the Law emanating from Moses, and he 
was entirely filled with their spirit. The living word 
was the means which he employed to attain his end, 
for he was endowed with impressive eloquence. 
From time to time he had prophetic dreams and 
visions. These revealed to him that his convictions 
were not the mere suggestions of his own mind or 


heart, but were sanctioned or inspired by a higher 
Being. The prophetic inspirations consisted of 
teachings or commands; they were combined with 
an unveiling of the near future, and bore the char- 
acter of revelations. Animated by his prophetic 
visions, Samuel communicated them to his hearers, 
probably at his native place, Ramah, where his repu- 
tation had preceded him. These communications, 
which foreshadowed extraordinary events beyond 
the limits of common foresight, he seems to have 
expressed in orations and in rhythmic utterances, 
abounding in poetic metaphors and similes. 

Whilst in Shiloh, he had been repeatedly vouch- 
safed prophetic visions, and these had been con- 
firmed. It soon went forth in the environs of Ramah, 
and in ever-widening circles that a prophet had 
arisen in Israel, and that the spirit of God, which 
had rested on Moses and had led him to deliver the 
children of Israel from Egypt, had now descended on 
the son of Elkanah. In the interval, during a long 
succession of centuries, no prophet, in the full sense 
of the word, had arisen. The fact that God had 
raised up a second Moses encouraged the hope 
that better times were at hand. Samuel's first en- 
deavour was to reclaim the nation from the idola- 
trous worship of Baal and Astarte, and from a 
superstitious belief in the oracular powers of the 

The desire of a portion of the people to abandon 
their evil ways materially assisted Samuel in his 
efforts. His irresistible eloquence was concentrated 
in the one theme that the gods of the heathen were 
nonentities who could neither help nor save. He 
declared that it was folly and sinful to consult the 
lying oracles and the jugglery of the soothsayers, 
and that God would never desert the nation whom 
He had chosen. These words found a powerful 
response in the hearts of those who heard them. 
Samuel did not wait for the people to come to him 


in order that he might address them, but he went 
forth to them. He travelled through the whole land, 
appointed public meetings, and announced to the 
multitudes the lessons revealed to him by the spirit 
of God; and the people, stirred by his prophetic 
utterances, and roused from the lethargy into which 
they had been plunged ever since their misfortunes 
had commenced, now began to revive. The right 
man had come, whose words could be followed in 
days of care and trouble. The eyes of the nation 
naturally turned towards him. 

Had Samuel stood alone, he would scarcely have 
been enabled to effect so desirable a transformation. 
But he had a number of assistants on whom he could 
rely. The Levites, whose home was in Shiloh, had 
fled when the town and the Sanctuary were de- 
stroyed. They had been accustomed to surround 
the altar and to serve in the Sanctuary. They knew 
no other occupation. What were they to do now in 
their dispersion? Another place of worship had not 
yet been founded to which they might have turned. 
Several Levites therefore joined Samuel. His great- 
ness had impressed them when he lived in Shiloh, 
and he now employed them to execute his plans. 
Gradually their numbers increased until they formed 
a band of associates (C/iebel], or Levitical guild 
(Kehillali}. These disciples of prophecy, headed by 
Samuel, contributed materially to the change of 
views and manners among the people. 

Another circumstance served at that time to rouse 
the nation from its apathy. During the entire period 
of the Judges' rule, the men of Judah had not taken 
the slightest share in public events. Dwelling far 
away in their pasture-fields and deserts, they seemed 
to have no part in the life of the other tribes. They 
called themselves by the name of Jacob. Utterly 
secluded, they led a separate existence, untouched by 
the sorrows and joys, the battles and conquests, of 
the tribes living on both sides of the Jordan. The 


Jebusites, who possessed the district between the 
mountains of Ephraim and Judah, formed a barrier 
between these tribes and the Israelites dwelling in 
the north. 

It was only the repeated incursions of the Philis- 
tines on Israel's territory which seem to have 
aroused the tribe of Judah, and forced it out of its 
retirement. It was probably to strengthen them- 
selves against the attacks of their enemy, who 
sought to lay the yoke of serfdom on their necks, 
that the men of Judah stretched out a helping hand 
to the neighbouring 1 tribes. Whatever circumstance 

& o 

may have influenced them, it is certain that in 
Samuel's days, the tribe of Judah with its depen- 
dency, the tribe of Simeon, took part in the com- 
mon cause. Jacob and Israel, divided during all 
the centuries since they first entered Canaan, were 
now at length united. It was, without doubt, 
Samuel who brought about this union. 

Judah's or Jacob's entry into history marks the 
accession of a new, vigorous and rejuvenating ele- 
ment. The tribe of Judah had found but few towns, 
and by no means a developed town liie in the terri- 
tories it had acquired. The only city worthy of note 
was Hebron ; the other places were villages for 
cattle-breeders. Both the refinement and the de- 
pravity resulting from the influence of the Philistines 
had remained unknown to the tribes of Judah and 
Simeon. The worship of Baal and Astarte, with its 
coarse and sensual rites, had not established itself 
among them. They remained, for the most part, 
what they had been on their entry into the land 
simple shepherds, loving peace and upholding their 
liberty, without any desire for warlike fame or for 
making new conquests. The simple customs of patri- 
archal life seem to have endured longer in Judah than 
elsewhere. This accession of strength and religious 
activity could certainly not have been rendered pos- 
sible without Samuel's commanding and energetic 


intervention. The son of Elkanah, though no war- 
rior, was looked upon as a firm supporter on whom 
both houses could lean. For many years Samuel, 
assisted by the prophetic order of Levites, pursued 
his active course with zeal and energy; the people 
regarded him as a leader, and he, in fact, by his 
inspired zeal, led them on to conquest. A victory 
gained near Eben-ha-Ezer, where, many years before, 
the Philistines had overcome the Israelite troops and 
had carried off much booty, now produced a mighty 
effect: it revived the courage of the Israelites and 
humbled the Philistines. 

During the next decade the people once more 
enjoyed the comforts of peace, and Samuel took 
measures that prosperity should not efface the good 
results of previous misfortunes. It was his earnest 
endeavour to consolidate the union between the 
tribes, which was the true foundation of their 
strength. Year after year he called together the 
elders of the people, explained to them their duties, 
and reminded them of the evil days which had 
befallen the Israelites through their godlessness, 
their intermarriage with strange nations, and their 
idolatrous excesses; he also warned them against a 
return to these errors. Such assemblies Samuel held 
by turns in the three towns which came into notice 
after the destruction of Shiloh namely, in Bethel, in 
Gilgal, and in Mizpah where prayers for victory over 
the Philistines had been offered up in the former 
campaign. At Ramah, the place of his residence, 
frequent meetings of the various tribes took place ; 
and here the elders sought his advice in all im- 
portant matters. At divine services Samuel not 
only caused sacrifices to be offered up, but with the 
aid of the Levites he introduced the use of stringed 
instruments in order to arouse the devout feelings of 
the people. 

Through him a new element was introduced into 
the divine service of the Israelites viz., songs of 


praise. Samuel, the ancestor of the celebrated 
psalmists, the sons of Korah, was the first who com- 
posed songs of praise for divine service. His grand- 
son, Heman, was considered the chief psalmist and 
musician, and he ranked in fame with Asaph and 
Jeduthun, who flourished in the subsequent genera- 
tion. The charms of poetry and music were by 
Samuel brought to bear upon the religious service, 
and they left a lasting and ennobling impression on 
the minds of the people. The employment of choirs 
of Levites and singers rendered the sacrificial rite of 
minor importance. 

The priests, the sons of Aaron, took up a less 
respected position, and were, to a certain extent, 
neglected by Samuel. Achitub, a grandson of Eli, 
had saved himself after the destruction of Shiloh by 
taking refuge in the small town of Nob, near Jeru- 
salem. He had carried away with him the high 
priest's garments; and various members of the 
house of Aaron having assembled there, Nob be- 
came a sacerdotal town. Here, it seems, Achitub 
had erected an altar, and also a tabernacle on the 
model of the one which had been destroyed in 
Shiloh. He even appears to have made an Ark 
of the Covenant in Nob, instead of the one carried 
off by the Philistines. The Israelites apparently 
disregarded the fact that the new ark was wanting 
in the essential contents, the stone tablets of the 

Notwithstanding the eventful changes effected by 
Samuel through his great gifts and untiring energy, 
the condition of the people was anything but satis- 
factory. He had given special attention to the cen- 
tral and southern districts, and had appointed his two 
sons, Joel and Abijah, to act as judges the one in 
Beer-sheba, the other in Bethel but the north was 
left unrepresented. 

With increasing years Samuel could not display 
the same activity as in his youth and riper man- 


hood. His sons were disliked, being accused of 
misusing their power and of accepting bribes. 
There were no men of energy amongst Samuel's 
followers, and thus the ties which held the people 
together gradually slackened. In addition it must 
be noted that just at this period the country of 
Israel's greatest enemies was transformed into a 
kingdom. The Philistines had either of their own 
free will chosen a king, or had been forced to do so 
by one of the rulers of their five cities. The town of 
Gath became the capital. The ambition of the Phil- 
istine king now turned in the direction of fresh con- 
quests; he seems to have made successful attacks on 
the Phoenicians, and to have laid waste the town of 
Sidon. In consequence of their defeat the Sidonians 
took refuge in their ships, and on a rock which pro- 
jected far out into the sea they built a town which they 
called Zor (Tyre), the city of the rock. Meanwhile 
the Philistines became possessors of the entire terri- 
tory between Gaza and Sidon, and it seemed easy to 
them, with their increased power, to subjugate Israel; 
hence a fierce warfare ensued between them and the 
Israelites. The Ammonites also, who had been 
humiliated by Jephthah, now rose again under their 
warlike king Nahash, and began to invade the pos- 
sessions of the tribe of Gad and the half of Manasseh. 
Powerless to defend themselves, these tribes sent 
messengers to Samuel, entreating him to supply 
efficient aid. They at the same time expressed a 
wish which, though entertained by the entire people, 
was deeply painful to the prophet. They demanded 
that a king should be placed at the head of the 
Israelite community, who could compel the various 
tribes to unite in joint action, and might lead them 
to battle and to victory. There was now to be a 
king in Israel. Samuel was amazed when he heard 
these demands. A whole people was to be de- 
pendent on the whims or the will of a single indi- 
vidual ! Equality of all members of the nation before 


God and the law, the entire independence of each 
family group under its patriarchal head, had become 
so identified with their mode of life, that any change 
in their condition seemed incomprehensible and 
fraught with the heaviest misfortunes. 

It was now necessary to give a new direction to 
the destinies of the people. Samuel's clear intellect 
disapproved of the radical change ; yet his inherent 
prophetic gift compelled him to accede. The king- 
dom of Israel was brought forth in pain : it was not 
the offspring of affection. Therefore it never could 
find a natural place in the system of Israel's organisa- 
tion, but was at all times considered by more dis- 
cerning minds as a foreign element. 



Establishment of a Kingdom Saul His Position and Character 
His secret Election at Mizpah Humiliating Condition of the 
Nation under the Philistines Declaration of War Assemblage 
in Gilgal Battle of Michmash Defeat of the Philistines 
Severity of Saul Victory over the Ammonites Saul's Election 
as King confirmed His Court and Attendants His Officers 
and Standing Army Victory over the Amalekites Disputes 
between Saul and Samuel Saul's Attacks on the neighbouring 
People War with the Gibeonites Place of Worship in Gibeon 
War against the Philistines in the Valley of Tamarinths Goliath 
and David Meeting of Saul and David Saul's Jealousy turns 
into Madness The Persecution of David Saul's last Battle 
against the Philistines Defeat and Death. 

1067 1055 B. c. E. 

THE king who was placed at the head of the people 
through their own eager insistence, and with the 
unwilling consent of the prophet proved, more 
effectually than any objections could do, how little a 
monarchical constitution was fitted to realise the 
expectations founded on it; for the king, until his 
accession a simple and excellent man, with no 
thoughts of ambition or arbitrary power, did not 
shrink from cruelty and inhumanity in order to 
assert his dignity. 

By the aid of prophetic guidance, care was taken 
that he should not resemble the repulsive prototype 
drawn by Samuel, or become so independent as to 
place himself above all laws and rules, but that he 
should ever remain mindful of his lowly origin. 
Samuel did not select a king from the haughty tribe 
of Ephraim, lest he should act like Abimelech, who, 
in his presumption and ambition, had killed his own 
brothers, and laid waste whole districts; but the king 
was chosen from the smallest of the tribes, the tribe 

CH. vi. SAUL. 83 

of Benjamin. His family, that of Matri, was one of 
the lowliest in Benjamin. His father, Kish, was not 
in any way distinguished ; he was a simple country- 
man ; and nothing could be said in his praise, except 
that he was an upright man. Saul was chosen 
because he was content to work at his plough, and 
watch the increase of his father's flocks. He had no 
thought beyond the village in which he was born, 
and barely an idea that there were human beings to 
whom the possession of power was an attraction. 
In his shyness he displayed the ways of a true 
peasant; these circumstances, and the personal qual- 
ities of Saul seemed to be a security against any 
presumption or pride on the part of the first king of 

The circumstances attending the choice of a king 
left a deep and pleasing impression. " See," said 
Samuel, " this is the man whom God has chosen as 
king; his like is not to be found in all Israel." Most 
of the bystanders, carried away by the solemn pro- 
ceeding and by Saul's appearance, shouted, " Long 
live the king!" Samuel then anointed the newly 
elected king with holy oil, by which he was believed 
to be rendered inviolable. The elders rejoiced 
that their heartfelt wish of having a king to rule 
over them was at length realised. They looked 
forward to happy days. This choice of a king 
was an important epoch in the history of the Jewish 
people; it determined their entire future. Yet during 
the joyful and solemn proceedings, discord had 
already arisen. Some discontented people, prob- 
ably Ephraimites, who had hoped to have a king 
chosen from their own ranks, loudly expressed their 
disappointment. "How can this man help us!" 
Whilst all the other elders, according to universal 
custom, brought the king gifts of homage, and a few 
of the most courageous followed him to Gibeah to 
assist him against the enemies of Israel, the malcon- 
tents kept apart and refused their allegiance. 


Saul's courage, after his elevation to the throne, 
must have increased greatly, or he must have felt him- 
self guided by God after his unexpected elevation. He 
now boldly confronted the task of opposing his mighty 
enemies, and of settling the disorganised affairs of 
the commonwealth. The position of the people at 
his accession was very sad and humiliating, almost 
worse than in the days of the Judges. Their arms, 
such as bows and arrows, swords, etc., had been 
carried off by the victorious Philistines, who left no 
smith in the land to make new weapons. The 
newly elected king lacked a sword, that symbol of 
royalty among all nations and at all times. His 
election was probably conducted so secretly that the 
Philistines knew nothing of it. The Philistine tax- 
gatherers exhausted the strength of the country, and 
at the same time repressed every attempt at revolt. 
So greatly were the Israelites humbled that some of 
them had to accompany the Philistines on expedi- 
tions against their own brethren. Nought but a 
miraculous event could have saved them, and such 
an event was brought about by Saul with his son and 

Saul's eldest son, Jonathan, was perhaps worthier 
of the kingly dignity than his father. Modest and 
unselfish perhaps to a greater extent even than his 
father, courageous in the very face of death, he com- 
bined with these qualities an almost excessive kind- 
liness and gentleness, a feature which endeared 
him to all, but which would have been a serious 
failing in a ruler who had to display a certain 
amount of firmness and severity. Jonathan was, 
besides, endowed with an enthusiastic nature which 
appealed to every heart. He was truthful, and an 
enemy to all deceit ; he uttered his opinions freely, 
at the risk of displeasing, or of losing his position 
and even his life, all of which qualities made him 
a favourite with the people. Abner, the cousin of 
Saul, was of an entirely different disposition ; he was 


a warrior of unbending firmness, and possessed a 
considerable degree of artfulness. To the inexperi- 
enced king and the people he, too, rendered important 
service in their distress. Surrounded by these and 
other faithful adherents of his family, and by the tribe 
of Benjamin in general, who were proud to gain 
importance through him, Saul set forth on the unequal 
contest with the Philistines. Jonathan commenced 
hostilities. In the town of Geba, or Gibeah of 
Benjamin, lived the Philistine tax-gatherers, sur- 
rounded by a host of warriors. Jonathan attacked 
this post and killed the garrison. This was the first 
declaration of war ; it was made at Saul's command 
and with his full approval. The king now ordered 
that the trumpet-blast, announcing that the war 
with the Philistines had commenced, should sound 
throughout the land of Benjamin. Many heard the 
news with joy, others with sadness and dismay. 

All who had courage assembled in order to 
stand by their king, determined to aid him in 
casting oft the disgrace of Israel, or to perish in the 
attempt. Those who were cowards escaped to the 
opposite side of the Jordan, or hid in caverns, in 
clefts of the rocks, or in subterranean passages. 
A feeling of intense anxiety filled all minds as 
to the result of the contest. The meeting-place of 
the Israelites was then in Gilofal, the town most 


remote from the land of the Philistines. This place 
of meeting had been appointed by the prophet 
Samuel. He had directed Saul to repair thither, 
and stay there seven days to await his arrival and 
further instructions. Gilgal probably contained the 
choir of musicians and prophets, whose psalms and 
songs were to inspire the Israelite warriors with mar- 
tial courage and with trust in the deliverance of 
their fatherland. Meanwhile the Philistines prepared 
themselves for a war of extermination against the 
Israelites. The news of Jonathan's attack on their 
outposts had exasperated them; they were, how- 


ever, more surprised than terrified. How could the 
cowardly, weaponless, unarmed Israelites dare to 
attack the Philistines, their masters? A numerous 
band of warriors, supported by cavalry, passed 
through the valleys of the southern mountain-range 
of Ephraim, and through the entire breadth of the 
land as far as Michmash ; from this camping-place 
they spread their marauding bands in three direc- 
tions, the most humiliating circumstance being that 
many Israelites were compelled to assist the Philistines 
in subduing their own tribesmen. 

This was a critical time for the people of Israel. 
Whilst the Philistines were gradually pushing for- 
ward to Michmash, Saul, surrounded by the brave 
men of his tribe, awaited in Gilgal the prophet who 
was to give the warriors his inspired directions, and 
thus endow them with courage. But day after day 
passed and Samuel did not appear. Every hour 
spent in idleness seemed to destroy the chance of a 
successful issue. Saul feared that the enemy would 
descend from the mountains into the valley, attack 
Gilgal, and destroy or put to flight the small body of 
Israelites. Not a few of his soldiers had already 
deserted, looking on Samuel's absence as an inaus- 
picious omen. Saul, becoming impatient, determined 
on the seventh day to attack the enemy on his own 
responsibility. According to ancient practice, he made 
a sacrifice in order to propitiate the Deity, and to 
ensure his success in the battle. Just as he was prepar- 
ing the burnt-offering, Samuel suddenly appeared, 
and upbraided the king severely for being carried 
away by impatience. He resented this error with 
great austerity, departed from Gilgal, and left Saul to 
his own resources a hard blow for him, as he had 
reckoned confidently on the prophet's assistance at 
this dangerous juncture. After Samuel had departed 
from Gilgal, Saul found it useless to remain there. 
He therefore repaired with the remnant of his troops 
to Gibeah. On reviewing- his soldiers here, he found 


them to amount to not more than six hundred. It 
is not surprising that Saul and Jonathan became 
dispirited at the sight of this slight force, which was 
unarmed and had to fight the well-appointed armies 
of the enemy. Saul and Jonathan alone possessed 
swords. It was indeed a sad honey-moon for the 
young kingdom. The most painful blow for Saul 
was that, through Samuel's absence, he was deprived 
of the means by which the people might ascertain 
the will of God. 

Jonathan, however, made a good beginning at 
Gibeah, where Saul and his troops lay encamped, 
at scarce an hour's distance from Michmash, the site 
of the Philistine camp. Between the two armies lay 
a valley, but the road which led from one place to the 
other was impracticable, the valley being bordered 
by steep, almost perpendicular walls of rocks and 
precipices, which closed it up on the east till it 
became a mere gorge of about ten feet in width. 
On the west side, where the valley formed a wide 
pass, the Philistines had stationed their outposts. 
Thus the Philistines and Israelites could only come 
to an encounter in the narrow path. At last Jonathan 
determined to ascend the steepest part of the pass, 
and, accompanied by his sword-bearer, he climbed, 
on hands and teet, up the steep sharp points of the 
rock on the side of Michmash. One false step 
would have precipitated him into the depth, but 
happily he and his man arrived safely at the highest 
point. When the Philistines beheld them, they were 
not a little surprised that, on this rocky road, a path 
had been found to their camp. Deceived by this 
ruse, and fearing that other Israelites would follow, 
they called out scornfully, " Look at the Hebrews, 
they are crawling out of their hiding-places; come 
higher up, we wish to become better acquainted 
with you." 1 It had been previously agreed between 

1 1 Samuel xiv. 12. 


Jonathan and his sword-bearer that, should they receive 
such a challenge, they would press on and bravely 
commence the attack. The Philistines who first 
beheld the daring climbers, soon left off scoffing, for 
twenty men were killed at the first attack with pieces 
of rock and sling-stones. The Benjamites were 
very skilful in the use of the sling, and Jonathan and 
his sword-bearer advanced further, and continued 
hurling masses of rock at the Philistines. Terror- 
stricken by this sudden attack from a side where 
approach had seemed impossible, they could only 
imagine themselves attacked by supernatural beings, 
and, seized with fear, they fought each other, or broke 
the ranks in the wildest confusion. Saul, who was 
watching from a high eminence, no sooner perceived 
the enemy beginning to flee than he hurried to the 
scene of action, followed by his six hundred warriors, 
and completed the defeat of the Philistines. Those 
Israelites who had until then been compelled by the 
Philistines to fight against their own brethren turned 
their arms against their oppressors. Others who had 
hidden themselves in the clefts and grottoes of the 
mountains of Ephraim took courage, when they 
witnessed the flight of the Philistines, and swelled 
the ranks of the aggressors. Saul's troops, thus 
increased, numbered ten thousand. In every town 
of Mount Ephraim through which the Philistines 
passed in their flight, they were attacked by the 
inhabitants, and cut down one by one. Though tired 
and exhausted, Saul's troops pursued the retreating 
foe for eight hours. 

An occurrence of apparently slight consequence, 
but which proved to be of great importance, put a 
stop to further pursuit. Saul had impressed on his 
soldiers that the destruction of their enemy was not 
to be interrupted even for food or refreshment, and 
he pronounced a curse on him who should take the 
slightest nourishment. Jonathan, who was always 
foremost, had heard nothing of this curse. Exhausted 


by the long fight and pursuit he could not restrain 
himself, and tasted wild honey into which he had 
dipped his staff. When his attention was drawn to 
his father's peremptory command, he openly avowed 
his act. Saul, however, made a serious matter of it, 
and determined to condemn Jonathan to death. But 
the people protested vehemently. "What!" cried 
the warriors, " shall Jonathan, to whom the people 
owes its great victory, be killed? No, not a hair of 
his head shall be touched." 1 The people offered a 
sin-offering for Jonathan, and thus released him from 
death. Through this episode, the pursuit of the 
Philistines to the west of Ajalon was suspended. 
Great was the joy of the Israelites at the victory they 
had so unexpectedly obtained. The battle of Mich- 
mash fully restored their reputation. They also had 
regained their weapons, and felt strong enough to 
fight under a king whose firmness of resolve they 
had experienced. But Saul returned humbly and 
modestly to his dwelling place in Gibeah, and 
ploughed, as heretofore, his father's fields. He 
was not yet blinded by his new dignity. Mean- 
while the hostilities of the Ammonites against the 
tribes on the other side of the Jordan had increased. 
Nahash, king of the Ammonites, besieged the fort- 
ress of Jabesh-Gilead. The inhabitants were unable 
to hold out for longr and negotiated with Nahash 

o ' o 

about a capitulation. He offered a hard, inhuman 
condition to the Gileadites of Jabesh. As a disgrace 
to Israel, all men should consent to lose their right 
eye. What were the Gileadites to do? They treated 
for a delay of seven days in order to send messages 
to their fellow-tribesmen. When Saul was one day 
returning home with his yoke of bullocks from the 
field, he met the inhabitants of Gibeah in great 
excitement and bathed in tears. Astonished at this, 
he asked the cause of their grief, and the messengers 

'I Samuel xiv. 45. 


from Jabesh-Gilead related what would befall their 
town if speedy assistance were not at hand. Incensed 
at the disgraceful condition imposed by the king of 
the Ammonites, Saul immediately determined to 
bring aid to the Gileadites of Jabesh. For the first 
time he exercised his royal prerogative by sum- 
moning all Israel to take part in the campaign 
against the Ammonites. 

Samuel supported this summons by declaring that 
he too would join in the expedition. By Saul's com- 
mand all the warriors assembled at the meeting-place. 
The anarchy of the era of the Judges was now at an 
end, and a stern will ruled. A large body of Israel- 
ites crossed the Jordan ; the Ammonites, attacked on 
the south, north, and west, fled in all directions, and 
no two of them remained together. The people of 
Jabesh were saved, and ever after displayed the 
deepest gratitude to Saul and his house for the help 
so quickly and energetically rendered to them. On 
his recrossing the Jordan, after his second victory 
over the enemy, Saul was greeted with tumultuous 
joy. Samuel, who was a witness to these expres- 
sions of delight, thought it wise to remind the king 
and his people that their triumph should not turn into 
pride, and that they should not consider the kingly 
dignity as an end, but only as a means. He there- 
fore summoned a large gathering of the Israelites, 
and determined to call the king's and the people's 
attention to their duties. Samuel again anointed 
Saul as king ; the people renewed their homage, and 
made joyful offerings. 

In the midst of these rejoicings Samuel delivered 
an address, which bears testimony to the powers of 
his mind and to his greatness as a prophet. 

Saul's two important victories, and the assemblage 
at Gilgal, where homage had been rendered to him 
by nearly all the tribes, confirmed his power, and 
the royal dominion was placed on a permanent 
basis. Although Samuel praised and extolled the 


days of the Judges, yet the people felt that it could 
better appreciate a king than a hero-judge. The 
nation willingly exchanged its republican liberty for 
the prize of unity and the power obtained thereby. 
The kingly estate led to various changes. Saul had 
to employ responsible men for the execution of his 
commands; he required a number of officers and 
servants. Officers of war were appointed to rule 
over hundreds and thousands respectively, and coun- 
cillors, who were admitted to the king's table. A 
special band of men served as runners (razim], an 
armed force who became the obedient instruments of 
the king's will. These and their chief formed the 
king's court. Saul's leader of the guard was named 
Doag, an Idumaean by birth. Owing to the pres- 
ence of the standing army and attendants, Gibeah, 
till then only a small town, now became the capital. 
Towards Samuel, Saul at first showed submission. 
When the prophet, in the name of God, com- 
manded him to declare war to the death with the 
Amalekites, Saul immediately made preparations, and 
summoned his warriors. The Amalekites were the 
implacable and hereditary enemies of the Israelites, 
and had displayed the greatest cruelty towards them 
during their wanderings in the desert, and on their 
entry into the Holy Land. These enemies often 
joined other nations in order to crush the Israelites. 
The Amalekite king Agag appears to have caused 
great trouble to the tribe of Judah in the days of 

It was, however, no light task to undertake hostil- 
ities against the Amalekites. Agag was considered 
a great hero, and inspired all around him with fear; 
but although the Amalekites were renowned for their 
courage and power, Saul did not hesitate to prepare 
for this hazardous campaign. He appears to have 
carried on the strife with skill and courage, and to 
have drawn the enemy into an ambush, by which he 
was enabled to obtain a complete victory. He took 


the capital (possibly Kadesh), killed the men, women 
and children, and captured the dreaded king Agag. 
Only a few of the people who escaped with their 
lives took refuge in the great neighbouring desert 
which leads to Egypt. The Israelite warriors carried 
off rich booty, including flocks of sheep, herds of 
cattle, and camels. According to Samuel's com- 
mand, this spoil was to be destroyed, so that every 
trace of the memory of Amalek might be lost. The 
soldiers, however, did not wish this rich spoil to be 
given up to destruction. Saul, ordinarily so rigid in 
his discipline, permitted the preservation of the booty, 
and thus transgressed the prophet's directions. Saul 
was very proud of his victory over the dreaded 
Amalekites, and he caused the king Agag to be led 
in chains as a living sign of triumph. His success 
in battle intoxicated him, and caused him to forget 
his former humility. On his return he erected a 
monument of his victory in the oasis of Carmel. 
Meanwhile, Samuel, in a prophetic vision, had learned 
that the king had not fulfilled the instructions given 
him, and was therefore to be punished. 

Samuel had to announce this to the victorious 
king; but the task was difficult, and he struggled 
and prayed a whole night. At last he determined 
to proceed to meet Saul. But hearing on the way 
that Saul was so dominated by pride as to cause a 
monument to be raised, he turned back and repaired 
to Gilgal. When Saul heard of this journey, he fol- 
lowed'him thither. The elders of Benjamin and the 
neighbouring tribes also proceeded to Gilgal to 
salute the victorious king. Here they were wit- 
nesses to a strife which foreboded evil times. 

As though nothing had occurred, the king met the 
prophet with these words, " I have fulfilled God's 
commands." On which Samuel sternly replied to 
him, " What is the meaning of the bleating of the 
sheep which I hear ?" " It was the people," answered 
Saul, "who spared the best of the sheep and the 


oxen, in order to sacrifice them on the altar at Gilgal." 
At these words the prophet Samuel could no longer 
repress his anger, and he replied in winged words: 
" Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings 
and sacrifices, as in obeying His voice? Behold, to 
obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken, than the 
fat of rams. For the sin of witchcraft comes from 
rebellion, and the iniquity of Teraphim from stubborn- 
ness. Because thou hast rejected the word of the 
Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king." 

Saul was so deeply humiliated by these words and 
by the stern and austere attitude which the prophet 
adopted that he confessed his fault and, in the 
effort to prevent him from going away, he seized 
Samuel's robe so firmly that it was torn. Samuel 
then said, " This is a sign : God will tear thy kingly 
dignity from thee and will give it to a better man, 
even though Israel be torn asunder in the act." Once 
more Saul entreated the prophet. "At least honour 
me now before the elders of my tribe and of Israel, 
and return with me." 1 

In consideration of this entreaty, Samuel accom- 
panied him to the altar, where the king humbled 
himself before God. Samuel then ordered that the 
fettered king Agag should be led forth. The Amale- 
kite king exclaimed in his fear, "Oh! how bitter, 
how bitter is death!" 1 To this exclamation Samuel 
replied, "As thy sword hath made women childless, 
so shall thy mother be childless among women," and 
Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the king in 
Gilgal. 1 

After this scene in Gilgal, the king and the 
prophet avoided each other. The victory which 
Saul obtained over Amalek was a defeat for him 
his pride was crushed. The announcement that 
God had abandoned him threw a dark shadow 
over his soul. His gloom, which later on developed 

1 1 Samuel xv. 12 to 33. In the 32d verse read mar mar hammaveth. 


into madness, owed its rise to the threatening words 
of Samuel, " God will give the kingdom of Israel to 
a better man." 1 These terrible words were ever 
ringing in Saul's ears. Just as he had at first hesi- 
tated to accept the reins of government, so he 
was now unwilling to let them pass from his hands. 
At the same time he felt himself helpless. What 
could he do against the severity of the prophet? In 
order to divert himself, he plunged into warfare. 
There were many enemies on the borders of Israel 
whom he wished to subdue. He also pursued another 
course in order to impress the people with a sense of 
his importance. 

There still lived amongst the Israelites a few 
Canaanite families and small clans who had not been 
expelled when the country was conquered, and could 
not be ejected now. These had led the Israelites to 
honour false gods, and to indulge in idolatrous errors. 
Saul therefore thought that he would greatly benefit 
the nation, and serve the law of Israel, if he removed 
these idolatrous neighbours, and everything that was 
foreign. Among the strangers who had been suffered 
to remain were the men of Gibeon, they having volun- 
tarily submitted to the conquering Israelites, Saul 
did not respect the oath given to the Gibeonites, but 
ordered a wholesale massacre amongst them, from 
which but few escaped. 

Together with the foreign Canaanite nations he 
also persecuted the sorcerers who took part in 
idolatrous practices. Whilst Saul, on the one hand, 
endeavoured to acquire the good will of his people, 
and showed himself the severe champion of the laws 
given by God, he tried, on the other hand, to impress 
the nation with submissive dread of the kingly power. 
He wore a golden crown on his head, as a sign of 
greatness and exaltation above the masses. His 
contemporaries, who had known him as a plough- 

1 1 Samuel xv. 28. 


man, and might have been inclined to treat him as their 
equal, were to forget his past and become accus- 
tomed to gaze at him with awe as the anointed 
wearer of the holy crown. Saul also indulged in the 
royal luxury of polygamy. He took wives in addi- 
tion to his first wife Ahinoam, whom he had married 
when he was still a peasant. Among them was the 
beautiful and courageous. Rizpah. 

Saul showed much energy in his raids against the 
enemy and, no doubt in order to dissipate the fears 
aroused by the prophet's harsh words, displayed 
great pomp and ostentation, until then foreign to his 
nature. But sooner than he had anticipated, the evil 
spirit of his imagination took form in the shape of a 
youth that charmed him despite himself. 

It happened during one of the frequent fights with 
the enemy that Saul's troops were drawn up in martial 
array against the Philistines, and the two armies stood 
face to face, separated from each other only by a deep 
ravine. Both were fearful of taking the first decisive 
step. At length the Philistines made the proposal 
that the battle should be settled by single combat, 
and they sent forth as their champion the gigantic 
warrior Goliath. King Saul would gladly have seen 
one of his army go forth to the duel, and he prom- 
ised the victor rich presents, exemption from taxes, 
freedom from compulsory service, and the hand of 
one of his daughters. But not even at such a price 
did any one of the Israelite army dare to oppose 
himself to Goliath. Then, as if by chance, a shep- 
herd boy of Bethlehem, a town near to the field 
of battle, presented himself, and brought about a 
decisive issue. 

This shepherd of Bethlehem, directly or indirectly, 
was the cause of a revolution in the history of Israel, 
and in the history of the human race. David, then 
known only to the inhabitants of the village or 
town of Bethlehem, has since become a celebrated 
name throughout the world. After his disagreement 


with Saul, Samuel had received the prophetic mission 
to repair to Bethlehem in order to anoint the future 
king of Israel from amongst the eight sons of the 
ao-ed Tesse as successor to Saul. Samuel set out in 

t> J 

secret, lest he should be pursued by the king. The 
prophet selected David as the future king chosen by 
God, and anointed him as king of Israel in the pres- 
ence of his brothers. This simple but important act 
was naturally performed in privacy, and was kept 
secret by David's father and brothers. 

Jesse, the father of David, was not descended 
from a distinguished house of Judah, but, like all the 
inhabitants of Bethlehem, belonged to a very humble 
family. David was about eighteen years old when 
he was anointed, and was not distinguished either 
by his experience or by any deed. The beautiful 
pasture-land round about Bethlehem had till then 
composed his world But faculties lay dormant in 
him which only needed to be aroused to make him 
excel his contemporaries intellectually as Saul sur- 
passed them physically. David was pre-eminently 
gifted with poetic and musical talent, and whilst he 
yet tended his flock, his harp awakened the echoes 
of the mountains. A single circumstance, however, 
sufficed to change this youth into a man. 

Samuel returned to Ramah as secretly as he had 
left ; but he kept an eye on the youth whom he had 
anointed, and drew him into the circle of his disciples. 
Here David's poetic talents were developed. Here 
he was able to perfect himself in the use of musical 
instruments. But he learnt something more in 
Samuel's surroundings; he learnt "to know God." 
His spirit was pervaded with the Divine presence, 
and became instinct with that piety which refers 
all things to God, and submits in all things to 
Divine guidance. This reliance on God had been 
awakened and strengthened in him by the influence 
of Samuel. David frequently journeyed from Beth- 
lehem to Ramah, and from Samuel's house to the 


flocks of his father. The noble courage, with which 
his anointment and the influence of Samuel inspired 
him, did not desert him when he tended his 
flocks in the meadows of Bethlehem. When war 
with the Philistines broke out, in the neighbour- 
hood of Bethlehem, David could no longer remain 


a shepherd of his flocks, and he gladly under- 
took to deliver a message to his brothers who were 
serving in the army, so as to have an excuse for 
entering the camp. On his arrival there, he timidly 
told the bystanders that he was willing to risk an 
encounter with the blaspheming Philistine that 
reviled the army of the living God. The news soon 
reached the king's ears that a youth had offered him- 
self for the combat. Half convinced, half in scorn, 
Saul gave him permission to engage in the duel, and 
offered him his own armour. The first stone, cast 
with his skilled hand from the sling, struck the 
heavily-armed giant from afar; he fell to the ground. 
David threw himself upon Goliath, drew the sword 
out of the scabbard, and cut off the giant's head. 
The Philistines, from the hilltops, had witnessed the 
fall of their champion, whom they had thought invin- 
cible ; they declared themselves conquered, and no 
longer sought to prolong the war, but fled to their 
fastnesses. The troops of Israel, on the other hand, 
carried away by David's victory, followed their enemy 
in hot pursuit. 

Holding the bleeding head in his hand, the youth- 
ful victor was led before Saul, to whom he had till 
then been unknown. He had not the remotest sus- 
picion that this youth, from whom he could not with- 
hold his admiration, might become a dreaded rival. 
He felt great joy at the signal victory. His son 
Jonathan, who had an open, tender and unselfish 
heart, was enchanted with the young victor. His 
love and attachment for David became stronger than 


man's love for woman. The fame of David's name 
and the victory he had obtained in Ephes-Damim 


soon resounded throughout the valley of Terebinths, 
and in the territories of all the tribes. David, how- 
ever, returned to his father's house as though nothing 
had happened, and merely took Goliath's shield and 
armour with him as memorials. But he did not 
long remain at home. The destiny of Saul had 
begun to be fulfilled, and David was its chosen 
instrument. The gloom of dejection, which had 
obscured the soul of the king since his breach with 
the prophet, became still darker. His ill-humour 
deepened into sadness and melancholy, and some- 
times paroxysms of wild madness took hold of 
him. "An evil spirit hath entered the king," his ser- 
vants whispered to each other. Instrumental music 
alone was capable of rousing him; his faithful ser- 
vants therefore proposed that a skilled musician and 
poet should come to the court, and they advised him 
to select the son of Jesse, who was handsome, brave, 
eloquent, and a harpist. David came, and his mus- 
ical talent, as well as his general bearing, delighted 
the king. Whenever Saul fell into melancholy, David 
touched the harp, and the king was relieved from his 
depression. Saul felt himself enchained by David. 
He began to consider him as a son, and at length 
entreated David's father to leave him permanently at 
court. Saul appointed him his armour-bearer, thus 
securing to himself the cheering influence of his pres- 
ence. This was the first step towards David's rise. 
But not only was the king attracted by him, David 
exercised an influence over the entire court, and all 
hearts turned towards him. Jonathan, however, loved 
him best of all. Saul's second daughter, Michal, 
was also secretly devoted to him. At the court, David 
learnt the use of weapons, and exchanged the harp 
for the sword. As he was full of courage, he soon 
distinguished himself in the small frays in which he 
took part, and came off victorious and successful. 
On one occasion, when David had inflicted a signal 
defeat on the Philistines, and when there were great 


rejoicings throughout the Israelite territory, the 
women and maidens of the various cities which he 
traversed on his return came forth to meet him with 
songs, timbrels and cymbals, dancing around him, 
and joyfully proclaiming him victor, saying: "Saul 
has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thou- 
sands." These honours, unanimously and enthusi- 
astically offered to the youthful hero, at length opened 
Saul's eyes. This was " the better man," the one 
whom God had chosen as king over Israel ; the rival 
with whom Samuel had threatened him, whom he 
dreaded so greatly, but who had hitherto only ap- 
peared to him as a visionary being, was now actually 
before him in the person of his own favourite and 
that of his people. 

It was a terrible disillusion for Saul. "To me they 
give but thousands, and to him tens of thousands 
they place him above me. What is yet wanting to 
make him king ? " The joyous shouts of the singing 
and dancing choruses of women rang in his ears from 
that time, and brought to mind the words of the 
prophet : " Thou art deserted of God." Saul's love 
for David now changed to bitter hate, which soon 
turned to madness. 

On the very day succeeding David's return from 
his triumphal procession, Saul was seized with frenzy, 
and twice hurled a spear at David, who skilfully 
avoided the thrust. When the mad fit had left Saul, 
the failure of this attempt seemed to him a proof 
that God was protecting his enemy. From that 
time he sought to destroy his rival by stratagem. 
He pretended to honour David ; made him the 
leader of the picked detachment of a thousand men, 
ordered him to direct attacks of great importance 
and danger, and offered him his eldest daughter, 
Merab, as a wife. Saul hoped to bring the man 
whom he hated to ruin by these apparent marks of 
favour. David, however, avoided the danger by 
refusing to marry Merab, and, on the other hand, he 


had the good fortune to defeat the Philistines. He 
was to have the king's second daughter in marriage, 
if he brought proofs of having killed one hundred 
Philistines. He brought evidence of having slain 
double the number, and Saul was obliged to keep 
his promise, and give him his daughter Michal. 
She and Jonathan sided with David against their 
father, thus incensing Saul still more. He sought 
to take David's life, at first secretly, and then 
openly by leading his forces against him. David 
was proclaimed an outlaw, and became utterly 
desperate. He was now joined by youths and 
men as forlorn as himself, and anxious for war. 
Chief amongst these was his kinsman, Joab, who, 
with his two brothers, formed the nucleus of the body 
of heroic warriors (Gibboriin},\yy whose assistance 
David was to rise step by step to the throne. A 
prophet, named Gad, belonging to the school of 
Samuel, also joined him. The last representatives 
of the sacerdotal family of Eli, the high-priest, were 
driven by Saul into the arms of his supposed enemy. 
Saul, hearing that the priests of Nob, the relations 
and descendants of Eli, had been aiding David, 
caused them to be cruelly murdered, and the priestly 
city to be destroyed. One family alone, that of Abi- 
athar, escaped death, and fled to David, who received 
the fugitives with open arms. Hatred of his rival 
made Saul cruel and bloodthirsty. All attempts on 
the part of Jonathan, who desired to mediate between 
his father and his friend, proved fruitless, and only 
served to widen the breach. Saul being clearly in 
the wrong, a part of the nation sided with David ; 
but unable to assist him openly, they gave him secret 
help, by which he was enabled to escape from 
repeated persecutions. It is to be deplored that 
David, in his wanderings and privations, was obliged 
to form friendly relations with the enemies of his 
country with the king of Moab, with the Ammonite 
king, Nahash, and with the king of the Philistines, 


Achish. He thus incurred the suspicion of having 
become a traitor to his country, and apparently justi- 
fied Saul's enmity towards him. The terms of David's 
alliance with Achish, by whom he had been at first 
refused protection, but with whom he had, on the 
second occasion, found refuge, seemed especially apt 
to implicate him. Achish granted him protection on 
the condition that he would break entirely with Saul 
and his country, so that, in case of war, he and 
his troops, amounting to six hundred men, might 
join the Philistines against his own tribe, and, in 
times of peace, make incursions on the remote 
portions of Judah, and deliver up a part of the 
booty to his liege lord. David, it is true, appears to 
have determined to evade these conditions, and event- 
ually even to join his own people against his allies. 
But thus he was compelled to enter upon crooked 
ways, and to give up the honesty of purpose which 
had hitherto distinguished him. It is probable that 
the wild appearance of David's troops did not make a 
very pleasant impression on the inhabitants of Phi- 
listia. The Philistine chiefs were displeased that 
their sovereign should ally himself with a leader who 
owed his glory to victories over their own people. 
King Achish, however, expected so much from this 
alliance that he paid no heed to the warning of his 
counsellors. But David himself felt the discomfort 
of living amongst the Philistine population. He 
therefore begged Achish to assign to him and his 
followers a dwelling-place in one of his citadels. 
This proposition being agreeable to the Philistine 
king, he gave David the town of Ziklag. No sooner 
had the news spread that a special city had been 
appointed for David's occupation, than warlike men, 
both strangers and natives, joined him, many of 
whom distinguished themselves by their heroism 
later on. Achish believed that, in David, he had 
secured a faithful ally, who was employing his mili- 
tary knowledge and courage against members of his 


own tribe, and who, consequently, could never again 
make peace with his own people. 

Thus adroitly deluded by David, Achish thought 
himself secure in undertaking a decisive war against 
the Israelites. Saul was sunk in melancholy, and 
since his quarrel with his son-in-law had lost his 
former energy in warfare. The strong arm which 
had fought for him, and the quick brain which had 
planned for him, were now turned against him. The 
bravest youths and men in Israel had placed them- 
selves under David's command. Achish summoned 
all his troops, in order to inflict a decisive blow on 
Israel. Marching through the plain along the coast 
of the Mediterranean (which belonged to the Philis- 
tines since their victory over the Phoenicians), he 
led his army right into the valley of Jezreel. This 
territory, apart from political considerations, offered 
a better field than the mountain regions for employ- 
ing the cavalry and chariots. In consequence of their 
treaty, Achish demanded that David should aid 
him in this great war against Saul, and unite his 
troops with the Philistine army. David's heart 
must indeed have been heavy when he joined the 
army, but he had no choice; he had sold himself to 
the enemies of his nation. The Philistine nobles, 
however, delivered him from his equivocal position. 
They loudly and vehemently demanded that the 
king should send away David and his soldiers, whose 
fidelity they mistrusted. The Philistine king was 
forced, by their almost rebellious demand, to dismiss 
David. After giving him the assurance of his un- 
shaken confidence in his fidelity, he sent him back to 
Ziklag. This was fortunate for David, as he was 
thus saved from the dilemma of either becoming a 
traitor to his own people, or breaking faith with his 
ally Achish. 

The Philistines meanwhile went forth to the number 
of thousands, and encamped near the town of Shunem. 
Saul, who had received news of the preparations of 

CH. VI. ACHISH. 103 

the Philistines, and of their final expedition, called 
together the Israelitish troops, advanced in forced 
marches to meet the enemy, and encamped at first at 
the foot of Mount Gilboa. He then marched around 
the opposite heights, and, having proceeded north- 
ward, encamped at the northwest base of the moun- 
tain range near Endor. 

Saul lost heart at the sight of the great number 
of Philistines, especially when he beheld their cav- 
alry; the evil days which he had brought on him- 
self had deprived him of his former courage. He 
felt himself deserted by God, since neither priest 
nor prophet gave an answer to his inquiry as to 
the result of the war. Having waited in vain for an 
inspiration to come to him in a dream, he finally, in 
despair, went to a ventriloquist in Endor, who had 
escaped persecution, and practised her witchcraft in 
secret. It was peculiar that Saul had to have 
recourse to the arts of jugglery, which formerly he 
had desired to banish from his dominions. Discour- 
aged by the ominous predictions of the witch, Saul 
went into battle with a heavy heart, and as though 
his fears had infected his troops, the result proved 
disastrous. The Israelites, indeed, fought bravely, 
and the battle lasted the whole day, but they could 
not contend with the cavalry and war chariots on 
the plain. They fled to the mountains of Gilboa, 
but they were pursued, and routed by the Philis- 
tines. Saul's three sons, the amiable Jonathan, Abin- 
adab and Malchishua, all fell, and the father found 
himself suddenly alone, attended only by his armour- 
bearer, whilst the Philistine bowmen pressed on him. 
He did not wish to flee, nor to be taken prisoner, 
and exposed to the scorn of the Philistines. He, 
therefore, entreated his servant to give him the 
death-blow, and when the latter refused to lay hands 
on the king, Saul had no alternative but to fall on 
his own sword, and die a death worthy of a king. 
The destruction was fearful. The flower of the 


Israelite troops lay strewn on Mount Gilboa and the 
plain of Jezreel. 

After resting during the night from their hard day's 
work, the Philistines revisited the battle-field, and 
stripped the slain of their clothing and ornaments. 
Here they found the corpses of Saul and his three 
sons. The king's head and his weapons they sent 
as trophies to Philistia ; the skull they preserved in 
the temple of Dagon, and the weapons, in a temple 
of Astarte to commemorate the great victory over 
Israel. They then forced their way into the towns 
in the plain of Jezreel, and into those in the north- 
eastern territory near the Jordan and occupied them. 
The inhabitants, on hearing of the defeat at Gilboa, 
had fled to the opposite side of the Jordan. The 
Philistines, as an insult to the Israelites, hung the 
headless bodies of Saul and his son Jonathan on the 
walls of Bethshan. It appears that the Philistines, 
following up their victory, turned to the south of 
Mount Gilboa and Bethshan, and occupied every 
town of importance. Saul's capital, Gibeah-Saul, 
was filled with terror at the approach of the Philis- 
tines. The inhabitants fled to the mountains, and 
while attempting to save Jonathan's son, Mephi- 
bosheth, then five years old, his nurse dropped him, 
and he was lamed for life. 

At his death, Saul left the country in a deplorable 
position, for things were even worse than they had 
been at his accession. The defeat was so thor- 
ough and unexpected that, at the moment, there 
was no thought of resistance, all courage having 
vanished. It was even considered an act of daring 
that some men of Jabesh-Gilead (from the opposite 
side of the Jordan), ventured, out of gratitude to 
Saul who had brought aid to their town, to rescue 
the king's body from its disgraceful exposure. They 
crossed the Jordan, at Bethshan, by night, took Saul's 
and Jonathan's bodies from the walls, buried them 
under a terebinth, and mourned for them during 


seven days. The tribes on this side of the Jordan 
were not equally courageous, or perhaps felt no 
gratitude to Saul, who had brought misery on the 
land by his persecution of David. Such was the 
end of a king whose election the nation had hailed 
with so much hope and joy. 



Burning of Ziklag Defeat of the Amalekites Judah elects David as 
King Abner and Ishbosheth War between the houses of Saul 
and David Murder of Abner Death of Ishbosheth David 
recognised as sole King Capture of Zion Fortification of Jeru- 
salem War with the Philistines Victory of David The Heroes 
Alliance with Hiram Removal of the Ark of the Sanctuary to 
Jerusalem The High -Priest Choral Services of the Temple- 
Internal Government of Israel The Gibeonites and Rizpah 

1055 1035 B - C. E. 

DAVID, too, in whom the people had once set high 
hopes, seemed to be forgotten by them. What 
had he done while his fatherland was bleeding? 
Whether or not his expedition with the Philis- 
tines was known, it must have appeared strange 
to all that, in this sad crisis, he was keeping himself 
aloof from every danger, only caring for his own 
safety, and that, instead of hastening to the aid of his 
oppressed people, he was holding to his treaty with 
the Philistines. It is true, he was himself at that time 
in distress, but the events which concerned him 
became known only later on. Meanwhile it must 
have been mortifying to those who cared for 
the weal of the kingdom that David was allied 
with the enemy, and that, during the absence 
of king Achish, in the war against Israel, David 
seemed in a measure to guard the enemy's fron- 
tiers. When David was sent back from his in- 
tended expedition with the Philistines on account of 
the suspicions of the nobles, he found that his town 
of Ziklag had been burnt down, and the women and 
children and all those who had joined him had dis- 
appeared. The Amalekites, who had suffered from 
David's incursions, had made use of his absence 


to undertake a raid against him. The grief of the 
troops was so great when they found that their 
belongings had disappeared and their town had 
been destroyed that they turned on David in their 
anger, and threatened him with death. However, 
they were encouraged by the oracular words of 
Abiathar, the priest, and permitted themselves to be 
appeased. Hurriedly David and his men then fol- 
lowed in pursuit. They discovered the camp of the 
Amalekites by the aid of an Egyptian slave whom 
they had found ill and deserted by the wayside. They 
pursued the Amalekites, and David's angry soldiers 
routed them so completely that most of them were 
left dead on the field of battle, and only a few could 
escape on camels. David and his troops returned to 
Ziklag, buoyed up by victory. They commenced to 
rebuild their town, and to settle down. Parts of the 
booty taken from the Amalekites David sent as gifts 
to the elders of the people and to his friends in 
many towns from Beersheba to Hebron, so as to 
spread the news of his victory, and, at the same time, 
gain partisans for himself. Hardly had he regained 
a firm footing in Ziklag, when he heard the evil 
tidings of the defeat and death of Saul. 

The chief men of the tribe of Judah,at the instiga- 
tion of those friends whose interest he had won by his 
attention, chose David as king. He then entered into 
communication with the tribes on the other side of the 
Jordan, in order to win also their affection. To the tribes 
on this side of the river he could not appeal, as they 
were still under the yoke of the Philistines. To the 
inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead, he expressed his con- 
tentment and his thanks for having shown their fidelity 
towards Saul even after his death, and for having res- 
cued the corpse of the king from ill usage. He also 
informed them of the fact that the tribe of Judah had 
elected him as Saul's successor. 

His unhappy fate, however, still kept him in alli- 
ance with the Philistines, and his prudence was strug- 


gling with his patriotism. The latter incited him to 
risk everything, in order to release himself from the 
fetters which bound him, whilst the former, on the 
other hand, warned him not to arouse the anger of his 
powerful neighbour. Achish gave David full per- 
mission to consider himself king of Judah, and to 
make incursions on the border lands of the desert, on 
condition that he received his share of the booty. But 
beyond this David was not permitted to advance a 
step. The deliverance of the land from the Philis- 
tines, which David, whose hands were bound, was 
unable to carry out, was effected by Abner, Saul's 
general. He had succeeded in escaping in the great 
defeat at Gilboa, and he did not lose courage, but 
saved what he could from the ruin which beiell the 
house of Saul. Attended by some fugitives, he took 
refuge on the other side of the Jordan (beyond the 
reach of the Philistines), where many hearts were 
still faithful to Saul and his house. Abner con- 
ducted the surviving son of Saul, Ishbosheth, and 
the remaining members of the helpless royal family 
to Mahanaim, and induced the tribes residing on 
that side of the river to acknowledge Ishbosheth as 
Saul's successor. Having collected a powerful force 
from among the tribes and the Benjamites who 
joined him, he commenced his contest with the 
Philistines. Abner was successful in ousting the 
Philistines from the neighbouring border towns, but 
it was only after a struggle of four or five years that 
he was enabled to free the whole country (1055-1^05 1^), 
so arduous was the contest. The tribe of Benjamin 
was the most difficult to reconquer, as the Philistines 
could most easily march their troops into its territory. 
Every tribe which Abner delivered was eager to pay 
homage to the son of Saul. Abner achieved great re- 
sults: he not only regained independence, but even 
induced tribes, which had shown themselves unruly 
under Saul's government, to join the commonwealth. 
He was the actual founder of the kingdom of the Ten 


Tribes or Israel, and he firmly welded the links which 
bound them to one another. But, notwithstanding his 
victory and his exertions, the nation was suddenly 
divided into two kingdoms that of Israel and that 
of Judah and two kings ruled them. The tribe of 
Judah, which the energy of Samuel and of Saul had 
drawn from its seclusion, and reunited with the other 
tribes, was thus again separated from the whole. 

Abner's victories aroused no feelings of joy because 
they led to disunion. The historian's pen hurries 
over his deeds, and touches but lightly on the 
hero's achievements. The state of affairs made an 
amalgamation of the houses of Judah and Israel 
impossible. Not only were the two kings, David 
and Ishbosheth, averse to the reunion of the several 
tribes (as in this case one of the two would have to 
resign his kingly dignity), but their adherents, and 
especially their respective generals, Joab and Abner, 
displayed a great degree of mutual jealousy . The scales 
were turned by the fact that the house of Judah was 
led by a brave and martial king, who had been con- 
secrated by Samuel, and whose person was therefore 
considered holy, whilst Ishbosheth, a king only in 
name, had not been confirmed in his dignity by the 
voice of God, and besides, it seems, was by no means 
of a warlike disposition. The whole power rested 
in the hands of his general Abner, while Ishbosheth 
remained in some remote corner of his possessions, 
whereas David had his dwelling-place in the midst of 
his tribe, and thus could direct everything from his 
residence in Hebron. 

After Abner had won or reconquered all the tribes, 
with the exception of Judah, a civil war broke out 
between the houses of Israel and Judah, or, more 
correctly speaking, between the houses of Saul and 
David. This war lasted two years (1051-1049), and 
raged very fiercely. At length Abner called upon 
Joab to put an end to the slaughter of the masses. 
He cried, " Must the sword slay for ever ; dost thou 


not know that only misfortune can arise from this 
warfare? Why dost thou not command thy people 
to hold off from their brethren?" At length Joab 
also found it advisable to put aside his weapons, and 
to proclaim an armistice. He and his people bore 
the corpse of his brother Asahel, whom Abner had 
slain against his will, to Bethlehem, in order that it 
might be interred in the ancestral tomb, and thence 
they repaired to Hebron. Abner and his followers 
crossed the Jordan, and went to Mahanaim. But a 
tragical destiny threatened the house of Saul. Abner 
had cast covetous glances at Rizpah, the beautiful 
slave of Saul, who dwelt in Mahanaim with her 
two sons. Although Ishbosheth allowed his general 
many liberties, he could not permit him to maintain 
intimate relations with his father's widow, which im- 
plied the intention of laying claim to the throne. 
Abner, feeling himself slighted by the rebuke he 
received, reproached this mock-king with ingrati- 
tude, and turning away from him, entered into 
secret negotiations with David, offering to secure 
to him the homage of all the tribes. In return for 
this service, he probably stipulated that he should 
retain his office of commander-in-chief of the Israelitish 
tribes. David gladly entertained his proposition, 
but demanded, as a preliminary concession, that his 
favourite wife Michal, who had been torn from him by 
Saul, and married to a Benjamite, should be restored 
to him. Ishbosheth himself no doubt saw the justice 
of this demand, and did not perceive in it any evil 
intention towards himself. Thereupon Abner, leaving 
the king under the pretext of bringing about Michal's 
separation from her husband, entered the Benjamite 
territory, compelled Phaltiel, Michal's husband, to 
give up his wife, whom he followed, with many tears, 
till Abner's angry threats compelled him to turn back 
in sorrow, and David recovered the beloved wife of 
his youth. Abner then wandered about amongst 
the tribes trying to obtain secret adherents for David. 


Many Israelites no doubt privately wished that the 
luckless civil war would end with submission to the 
king of Judah; even some of the Benjamites were 
not averse to a union. Attended by twenty trusty 
followers whom he had secured for David, Abner 
secretly entered Hebron ; David had succeeded in 
sending away Joab and his brothers (the distrustful 
and jealous sons of Zeruiah) on a predatory expedi- 
tion. During their absence, David personally ar- 
ranged with Abner and his twenty followers the 
manner in which the elders of the tribes should be 
won over to his side, and how the dethronement of 
Ishbosheth should then be effected. Abner had 
already left Hebron in order to call upon the elders 
of the tribes to follow his example, and do homage 
to the king of Judah. When Joab returned from 
his expedition, he heard the astonishing intelli- 
gence that Abner, the enemy of David's house, had 
been received, and permitted to depart in full favour, 
and that the king had made a secret treaty behind 
his back. As it seemed to him inevitable that he 
must be the victim of such a compact, he quickly- 
decided on his course, and sent messengers after 
Abner, who induced him to return. Joab and Abi- 
shai lay in wait for him at the gates of Hebron, and 
Abner, unaware and unwarned, was felled to the 
earth by their swords. David felt the death of Abner 
acutely. The man who alone was able and willing 
to obtain for him the adherence of all the tribes by 
peaceful measures was thus foully murdered, on the 
very eve of the realisation of his plan. David was 
placed in an awkward position. In order to destroy 
any suspicion which might arise against him, David 
gave solemn expression to his sincere grief at Abner's 
loss. He commanded a grand, imposing funeral in 
Hebron for Israel's fallen hero, ordered all his fol- 
lowers to attend the funeral procession, and accom- 
panied it himself. He breathed forth his tearful 
grief in an elegiac poem, the beginning of which 


has been preserved, and which made a powerful 
impression on all hearers. All burst into tears, and 
were convinced of the sincerity of his sorrow by the 
manner in which he recited his threnode. On the 
other hand, David feared to take the sons of Zeruiah 
to account, or even to reproach them for their con- 
duct; he could not spare their assistance. In the 
circle of his intimates only, uttering bitter complaints 
of them, he said, " Know that a great prince in Israel 
has fallen to-day." 

The news of Abner's murder made a deep impres- 
sion on Ishbosheth. He had no knowledge of his 
fallen general's treacherous league with David, and 
he therefore deeply mourned the death of a hero 
whom he supposed to be faithful, and whose loss 
seemed to be irreparable, for he considered Abner as 
the chief support of his throne. 

After Ishbosheth's death the kingdom of the ten 
tribes naturally fell to David. Among them, too, he 
had adherents of long standing, who remembered his 
warlike deeds against the Philistines in Saul's time, 
and who honoured him as the chosen one of God 
through his prophet Samuel. Others had been won 
over to his side by Abner. Even those who took 
offence at David's league with the enemies of Israel, 
could not hide from themselves the consideration that 
no choice was left them but to do him homage. The 
Benjamites also acknowledged him, but with a 
secret grudge, which they could hardly conceal. 
David's dearest wish was now realised ; from having 
been the ruler of a little, insignificant tribe he 
had become, after many obstacles and troubles, the 
king of all Israel. The breach between the houses 
of Judah and Israel was healed apparently, and every- 
thing seemed favourable to him. The priesthood and 
the prophets did not take a hostile attitude towards 
him, as they had done towards Saul, but joined with 
heart and soul in his cause. A descendant of the 
house of Eli, named Abiathar, who had shared David's 


troubles, belonged to his court; and the prophets 
welcomed in him the man who had been anointed by 
Samuel, and had belonged to that great man's circle 
of disciples. The prophet Gad was also a member of 
the court ; and another prophet of the time, named 
Nathan, was to a certain extent the keeper of David's 
conscience. Thus encouraged in all his undertak- 
ings by his spiritual advisers, everything tended to 
level the way for him, as far as the internal govern- 
ment was concerned. But his foreign relations 
occasioned him great difficulties, which had to be 
overcome before he could rule as an independent 

In the first place, David was forced to break with 
the Philistines, if he wished to be independent, and 
to win back the love of his people. He had to pre- 
pare himself for fierce warfare with his former auxil- 
iaries. But he did not immediately commence hos- 
tilities with them; they were too powerful for him. 
He wished first to free himself from other bonds. 
In the midst of the Benjamite territory was an 
enclosure, which had remained in the possession of 
the Jebu sites, because the Israelites, on their entry 
into the land, had not conquered it. The high hill of 
ZION was rendered inaccessible on three sides by 
narrow valleys and artificial fortifications. The most 
impregnable point was the south side, where the 
rocky wall of the hill rose almost in a vertical line 
from an abyss below. From this mountain fortress, 
the Jebusites ruled the entire surrounding territory, 
and felt themselves secure from all intruders. They 
appear to have lived in a state of peace with the sur- 
rounding Benjamites and Judseans, as even Saul did 
not disturb them in the possession of their territory. 
David, however, considered it conducive to his interest 
to obtain possession of this citadel of Zion before com- 
mencing hostilities with the Philistines. He there- 
fore resolved to storm the citadel, and subdue its 
defenders. As soon as the Jebusites found all oppo- 


sition useless they sued for peace, which was granted 
them by David. They were allowed to remain in 
their city, but not in the fortress ; he permitted them 
to settle in the east of the town, on Mount Moriah. 
This victory, which had appeared so difficult, and 
had, in fact, been easily obtained, had been preceded 
by the boast of the Jebusites about the blind and the 
lame, which gave rise to a proverb. 

After its conquest, David removed his capital 
from Hebron to Mount Zion, and it was hence- 
forth known as the town of David. The city itself 
lost its old name of Jebus, and received the new 
name Jerusalem (Jeruslialayim}, the meaning of 
which is not known. Hither David removed with 
his warriors and their families, and his courtiers. 
The spot where the bravest soldiers had their dwell- 
ings was called after them the house of the brave 
(Beth-ka-Gibboriiri). Such was the beginning of the 
place which since then, and for centuries, was to be 
known as the " Holy City." The choice of this spot 
as a capital was a happy stroke, as circumstances 
soon proved. It is true, Shechem would have made 
a better metropolis, on account of its position in the 
midst of the tribes, and the fruitful territory around it. 
But David found it impossible to move his dwelling 
to the town of the Ephraimites. The inhabitants 
were not especially well disposed towards him, and 
rather unwilling that the half-savage king, who 
sprang from Judah, should prescribe laws to them. 
Besides, he needed the support of his own tribe, and 
this he could have in Jerusalem, which was situated 
on the boundaries of Benjamin and Judah, and which 
would serve as a protection in the event of unruliness 
on the part of the other tribes. The territory on which 
the new capital was erected was not sterile, though it 
could bear no comparison with the part of the country 
in which Shechem lay. In the valleys flow everlasting 
springs, the springs of Siloah and En-Rogel in the south, 
the Gihon in the west ; so that in the dry season the 

CH. vil. CAPTURE OF ZION. 115 

town and fields can always be supplied with water. 
On three sides Jerusalem is surrounded by a range 
of hills which protect and embellish it. On the east 
is a high watershed (2724 feet), Mount Olivet, so 
named from the olive trees which cover it. In the 
south the hills are not so lofty, and the valley dividing 
them from the city is narrower. The valley is that 
of Henna (Ge-henna), which was thus named after 
an individual or a family, and which was destined to 
acquire a sad renown, and to supply another appella- 
tion for hell (Gehenna]. On the west the summits are 
also low, and can hardly be called hills. On the north, 
the hills gently slope down to the plain. By these hills 
and valleys, which form natural walls and ditches, Jeru- 
salem is sheltered on three sides. Within Jerusalem, 
on the high plateau and between the three valleys on 
the east, south, and west, there are three ranges of 
hills rising above the plain. On the west is Zion, the 
loftiest summit. On the north is a hill of no great 
height; and opposite the third is Mount Moriah, 
which has an offshoot towards the south, called 
" Ophel." Moriah, though much less lofty than Zion, 
was destined to eclipse it and the greatest heights 
on earth in importance. 

The Philistines could not ignore the fact that the 
choice of David as king of the entire Israelite nation 
had not only greatly loosened the bond which united 
him to them, but that it must in the future force him 
to take up a hostile attitude towards themselves. 
They did not, however, wish to break with him. But 
when the conquest of Jebus (Jerusalem) took place, 
they considered the fact of his removing his dwelling 
thither as a premonitory sign. They hastened to 
join with him in battle, before he had time to arm the 
available troops of the various tribes. A Philistine 
band pressed forward across the plain into the 
mountains, and approached Jerusalem. Whether 
David was surprised by their attack, or whether 
he wished to avoid an action near his capital, is 


unknown, but he left it with his troops, and moved 
southwards to Adullam. Encouraged by this retreat, 
the Philistines pressed on to Bethlehem, David's birth- 
place, where they encamped, and whence they sent 
out predatory expeditions to ravage the land of 
Judah. David delayed attacking the Philistines; his 
army was probably too weak, and he expected rein- 
forcements from the tribes. In order to stimulate 
his warriors to trials of strength during the pause 
before the decisive contest, David expressed a wish 
to drink water from a well in Bethlehem, which was 
in the possession of the Philistines. Three of the 
chief warriors, Jesheboam, Eleazar, and Shammah, 
immediately set out against the Philistines, daringly 
drew water from the well, and brought it to David 
at Adullam. David, however, would not drink the 
water for which his warriors had risked their 
lives. He had only put them to the test. At 
length the Israelite troops went forth to meet the 
Philistines, and utterly routed them at Mount Baal- 
Perazim. This victory was so decisive that it was 
compared with Joshua's at Gibeon. In their hurried 
flight, the Philistines left behind them their idols, 
which were burnt by the Israelites. The enemy did 
not, however, relinquish their intention of subduing 
David and his people. They made repeated attacks, 
once in the valley of Rephaim, another time near 
Ephes-dammim in Terebinthea ; David's troops 
and warriors performed miracles of bravery, they 
defeated their enemies, and pursued them as far as 
Gaza. David did not content himself with mere 
defence, but he determined on attacking the Philis- 
tines. If he wished to protect his people, it was 
necessary either constantly to harass, or to subdue 
the small but powerful nation which depended on 
incursions and warfare for its maintenance. He 
therefore proceeded with his soldiers as far as Gath, 
the former capital of the Philistines, which was 
situated nearest to the land of Judaea. The Phil- 


istines made a very obstinate resistance, and violent 
conflicts arose, in which David's heroes had ample 
opportunity for distinguishing themselves. It ap- 
pears that the Philistines suggested, according to 
their custom, that there should be combats with the 
remnant of their Rephaitic giants. Times had 
changed, however, and whilst in David's youth the 
Israelitish troops had not had among them a single 
soldier who would accept Goliath's challenge, there 
were now more than thirty who burned with eagerness 
to take part in the duels. On this occasion the warriors 
entreated the king not to expose himself in battle, 
and, in fact, not to go to war himself, in order that 
" the light of Israel " might not be extinguished. 

At length the Israelites succeeded in utterly rout- 
ing the Philistines, so that they were obliged to sur- 
render their capital Gath, and its villages and the 
surrounding territory. The town in which the son 
of Jesse had first appeared, entreating help in the 
guise of an imbecile, thus fell before him. One 
of the thirty warriors, Sibbechai of Hushah, killed 
the giant Sippai of Gath ; another man from 
Bethlehem named Elhanan, killed the brother of 
Goliath, named Lahmi, who had sallied forth to the 
contest like Goliath, laden with armour. David's 
nephew Jonathan killed a giant who had an additional 
finger on each hand, and an additional toe on each 
foot. David himself was once, when exhausted from 
the long struggle, in imminent danger of being over- 
come by the giant Ishbi of Gath; Abishai, however, 
Joab's brother, hurried to his aid, defeated the giant, 
and killed three hundred Philistines with his spear. 
The overthrow of the Philistines was an event of the 
greatest importance; it ensured lasting peace and 
freedom of action to the people, for none of the other 
enemies of Israel harassed it so persistently. David 
did not push his victory further ; he left the important 
cities of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod and Ekron undis- 
turbed, and even the town of Gath he appears later 


on to have restored to its king. No doubt he had 
reasons for not using extreme measures with the 
Philistines. It appeared to him better to rule them 
as a tributary power than to drive them to a war of 

By his victory over the Philistines, David attained 
great importance and respect in the eyes of the 
neighbouring peoples. Hiram, the king who had 
transferred the Phoenician power from Zidon to 
Tyre, despatched ambassadors to David, offering to 
make an alliance with him. He also offered to 
send supplies of cedar wood and building materials 
for adorning the new capital of Jerusalem in a fitting 
manner. He rejoiced at the subjection of the Philis- 
tines, probably because they would no longer be able 
to cast covetous glances at the Phoenician coast-lands. 
It was a matter of great interest to the king of Tyre 
to secure an alliance with David, in order that the 
Phoenician caravans might have free passage, and find 
protection for their goods when they passed backwards 
and forwards between Phoenicia and Egypt. David 
willingly accepted his advances, and thus a sort of 
friendship arose between him and Hiram. He 
accepted Hiram's offer in order to fortify the 
capital which had been founded by him, and to 
obtain materials for adorning it with architectural 
works, so that Jerusalem might vie in outward ap- 
pearance with the other capitals of those times. In 
the first place Jerusalem was fortified, especially 
on the north, where it was most liable to be 
attacked. The hill of Zion, or City of David, was, 
in fact, not sufficiently extensive to contain all the 
inhabitants who had already settled there, and it had 
become necessary to take measures to provide 
for the increasing population. For this reason, 
the hill which lay to the north of the town was included 
in its boundaries. Between Zion and this hillock 
lay a narrow valley. The northern elevation of the 
town was called Millo (border) ; it was considered 


the newer quarter of the town, in comparison with 
the more ancient city of David. Mount Moriah and 
its offshoot Ophel remained outside the circuit of 
the city, and in those days was not considered as 
belonging to Jerusalem, but was inhabited by the 
surviving remnant of the Jebusites. David also built 
a palace of cedar, the wood for which was procured 
from Lebanon. To Joab and the other important 
personages of David's court were assigned roomy 
and well-built houses, which were not constructed of 
cedar wood, but of cypress. 

David further sought to make Jerusalem the 
centre of religious life, in order that the eyes of 
the whole nation might be turned towards it. He 
therefore took measures to remove the ark of the 
sanctuary from the house of Abinadab at Kirjath- 
Jearim, where it had remained since its recovery 
from the hands of the Philistines. A splendid tent 
was built for its reception in the city of David. 
David had vowed not to remain in his house, nor to 
rest on his bed, nor to close his eyes in sleep until 
he had found a resting-place for the ark of the 
covenant. Accompanied by a great concourse, the 
king repaired to Kirjath-Jearim (which lay at about an 
hour's journey to the north-west of Jerusalem), and 
many Levites followed in the king's train. The ark of 
the sanctuary was placed on a new carriage drawn by 
bullocks, which were led by two sons of Abinadab. 
Choirs of Levites sang hymns, and accompanied 
themselves on stringed instruments, and David also 
assisted them with all his might. An accident, how- 
ever, occurred on the road. Uzzah, who walked next 
to the chariot, suddenly fell down dead. David was so 
shocked at this catastrophe that he hesitated to carry 
the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. He feared 
that it might bring down misfortune on the people, 
as it had done in the case of the Philistines. It was 
therefore placed in a house for three months, and, 
seeing that no evil came of it, David determined on 


making a second attempt at bringing it to Mount 
Zion. On this occasion, however, it was not placed 
on a chariot, but was carried by Levites. Followed 
by a mass of people, and amidst shouts of joy, blasts 
of trumpets, and dancing, the ark was conveyed to 
the tent appointed for it. The king himself, oblivious 
of his dignity, sang and danced in exultation before 
the ark. His conduct called forth a rebuke from his 
wife Michal, who scoffingly charged him with be- 
having like a public clown. 

As'it had done in the case of Shiloh, the arrival of 
the Ark raised Jerusalem to the dignity of a holy 
city. In such a place of public worship, it was neces- 
sary to maintain a priest, or rather a priesthood. 
Abiathar, David's faithful followerin all his wanderings, 
was, as a matter of course, raised to the office of High 
Priest to the sanctuary in Zion. There was, however, 
another high priest in Gibeon,whom Saul had placed 
there after the destruction of Eli's family in Nob. 
David could not entirely displace him, for such a 
course would have led to dissensions. He therefore 
confirmed his predecessor's appointment, and thus 
retained two high priests in office at the same time 
Abiathar in Jerusalem, and Zadok in Gibeon. A 
former pupil of the Levitical choirs, himself a poet 
and a musician, David naturally followed Samuel's 
example and introduced choral singing into the 
solemn religious services. He also composed hymns 
of praise at times, when a victory over the enemy, or 
some other success filled his heart with thankfulness, 
and animated him with poetical fervour. It may be 
said that his songs have become the prototypes of this 
lofty and inspiring style of verse. Besides the royal 
psalmist there were other poets and musicians, such 
as Asaph, Heman, a grandson of Samuel, and Jedu- 
thun. Their descendants were the Asaphites and 
Korachites (Bene Korach), who are named with 
David as the most famous composers of psalms. 
David arranged that Asaph and his choir should lead 


the choral service in the sanctuary at Jerusalem, whilst 
his fellow-musicians, Heman and Jeduthun, performed 
the same functions at the altar in Gibeon. Samuel's 
creation of a spiritual divine service was thus 
lirmly established by David; and though he was an 
upholder of sacrificial rites, he valued the elevating 
and refining influence of psalmody too highly not to 
make it an integral element of the public cult. At a 
time when poetry as an art had hardly awakened 
amongst the other nations, it already occupied a 
prominent place in the divine service of Israel. 

As David was the actual founder of a sanctifying 
divine worship, he was also the creator of a system of 
government which was based on justice. He presided 
at the tribunal, listened untiringly to the disputes of 
individuals or of tribes, and administered justice with 
strict impartiality. His throne was not only the high 
seat of government and power, it was also that of 
order and justice. Succeeding generations pro- 
nounced David the ideal king. His throne was 
looked upon as the prop of justice, and his sceptre 
as the standard of civic peace. Jerusalem was by 
him made an ideal city, where a pure worship of God 
had been established, and justice, in its most exalted 
form, had found its earthly resting-place. A later 
psalmist says 

"Jerusalem, that art builded as a city that is compact together, 
Whither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord ; 
For a testimony unto Israel, 
To give thanks unto the name of the Lord. 
For there are set thrones for judgment, 
The thrones of the house of David." PSALM cxxii. 3-5. 

Jerusalem was considered "a faithful citadel full of 
righteousness where justice had its dwelling-place." 
These circumstances, the deliverance from the yoke 
of the Philistines, the universal safety, and the estab- 
lishment of justice under David's rule, rendered him 
again the favourite of the people, as he had been in 
his youth. A feeling of loyalty to him prevailed, 


which was of spontaneous growth, and in which force 
had no share. 

David partly altered the internal arrangements of 
the country. The constitution of the tribes remained 
intact. The elders represented the families, and the 
head of the oldest family was also the prince of his 
tribe (Naszi-Beth-Ab). The princes were the repre- 
sentatives of the tribes with the king. But it was 
necessary to limit the freedom, or rather the arbitrari- 
ness of the tribes, in regard to military arrange- 
ments. Each tribe, in case of war, was bound to con- 
tribute a number of capable soldiers (over twenty 
years of age) as its contingent to the national army 
\Zaba]. A special officer was appointed over this con- 
tingent, who was called the enumerator (Sop her] ^ or 
the keeper of the rolls. He wrote down on a list the 
names of the men fit for active service, looked to 
their enrolment, and compelled the attendance of 
all defaulters. This duty David delegated to a 
man named Shavsha, from whom it passed on to his 
heirs. As soon as the army was assembled, it was 
commanded by the field officer (Sar-ka-Zaba), who 
at this conjuncture was Joab. David also supported 
a troop of mercenaries whom he recruited from the 
heathen soldiery, the Cherethites, who came from a 
territory belonging to the Philistine dominions, and 
the Pelethites, whose origin is unknown. Benaiah, 
son of Jehoiada, one of the bravest of David's 
soldiers, was their commander. David also ap- 
pointed a special officer on whom devolved the duty 
of reporting to the king all important, or apparently 
important events. He was called the recorder 
(Maskkir}. As favouritism is inseparable from 
kingly will, David also had a favourite (named 
Hushai the Arkhi) on whom he could rely under all cir- 
cumstances, especially in cases requiring discretion. 
He was also fortunate in having an adviser at hand, 
who could give suitable counsel in various emergen- 
cies; his name was Ahithophel, and his birthplace 

CH. vii. DAVID'S RULE. 123 

was the Judaean town of Gilo. At that time his 
advice was currently said to be as infallible as the 
oracles uttered by the lips of the high priest. This 
wise and over-wise councillor of David was destined 
to exercise a great influence over his royal master. 
At one time David's judicial conscience was put to 
a severe test. A famine of long duration overspread 
the land on account of a two years' drought. The 
distress continued to grow when, at the commence- 
ment of the third year, no rain had fallen, and the 
people turned to the king for help. This misfortune, 
in which the entire country shared, was interpreted 
as being God-sent retribution for some secret and 
unavenged sin. David therefore inquired of the 
priest Abiathar what sin required expiation, and the 
answer came, "on account of Saul and his ruthless 
persecution of the Gibeonites." David then sent to 
the remnant of the Gibeonites, and inquired of them 
what atonement they desired. Not satisfied with an 
expiatory sum of money, they demanded that seven 
descendants of Saul should be hanged in Gibeah-Saul. 
The demand of the Gibeonites seemed just, for 
according to the views of the time, only blood could 
atone for the shedding of blood and a breach of faith. 
With a heavy heart David had to comply with the 
demand of the Gibeonites, and satisfy the desire of 
the nation. The two sons of Saul's concubine 
Rizpah, and his grandson, the son of his daughter 
Merab, were sought out, handed over to the 
Gibeonites, and killed by them in cold blood, in 
Gibeah-Saul, the town in which their father had won 
a crown. 

David spared only Mephibosheth, the son of 
Jonathan, for he remembered the oath made to his 
friend, that he would always protect his descendants. 
The corpses of the seven victims were to remain on 
the gallows until rain should fall from the heavens, 
but it was long ere the rainfall came. It was in those 
dire days that the beautiful Rizpah, for whose sake 


Abner had quarrelled with Ishbosheth, showed of 
what a mother's love is capable. In order to prevent 
her sons' corpses from being devoured by eagles and 
jackals, she made her couch on the rocks on which 
the bodies were exposed, and guarded them with a 
watchful eye through the heat of day. Nor did she 
relax her vigilance in the night, but continued her 
work of scaring away the beasts of prey from the 
dead. When at length in the autumn the rain fell, 
the seven bodies were taken down, and at David's 
command the last honours were bestowed on them. 
He also seized this opportunity to remove the 
remains of Saul and Jonathan from Jabesh-Gilead, 
and to bury them, together with the remains of 
their kindred, in the family tomb of the house of 
Kish at Zelah. It appears that, on this occasion, 
David caused his deeply touching lament for the 
death of Saul and of Jonathan to be reproduced, in 
order to express publicly how deeply the destruction 
of the royal house of Benjamin had affected him. 
He directed that the elegy should be committed to 
memory by the youths of the country. Jonathan's 
surviving son, Mephibosheth (who had been living in 
the house of a much-respected man on the other side 
of the Jordan) was brought to Jerusalem, and David 
received him in his own house, placed him at his own 
table, and treated him as one of his own sons. David 
also restored to him Saul's lands in the tribe of 
Benjamin, and entrusted the management of them 
to one of Saul's slaves, named Ziba. Notwith- 
standing this, the Benjamites accused David of 
destroying the house of Saul, and of having pre- 
served Mephibosheth, because he was lame and unfit 
to rule. When David's fortune was on the wane, 
the embittered Benjamites cast stones at him. 



War with the Moabites Insult offered by the king of the Ammonites 
War with the Ammonites Their Defeat Battle of Helam 
Attack of Hadadezer Defeat of the Aramaeans Acquisition of 
Damascus War with the Idumasans Conquest of the town of 
Kabbah Defeat of the Idumasans Conquered races obliged to 
pay tribute Bathsheba Death of Uriah the Hittite Parable of 
Nathan Birth of Solomon (1033) Misfortunes of David Absa- 
lom Wise Woman of Tekoah Reconciliation of David and 
Absalom Numbering of the Troops Pestilence breaks out in 
Israel Absalom's Rebellion Murder of Amasa Sheba's Insur- 
rection David and Nathan Adonijah. 

1035 1015 B. c. E. 

WHEN David had completed two decades of his 
reien, he became involved in several wars, which 


withdrew him from the peaceful pursuits of regu- 
lating the internal affairs of the country, and of 
attending to the administration of justice. These 
wars with distant nations, forced on him against 
his will, p^ave him an immense accession of 


power, and raised the prestige of the people in a 
surprising degree. David first began a fierce war- 
fare with the Moabites, who dwelt on the opposite 
side of the Dead Sea. With them he had been on 
friendly terms during his wanderings, and amongst 
them he had met with a hospitable reception. It is 
probable that the Moabites had ousted from their 
possession the neighbouring Reubenites, and that 
David hurried to their rescue. It must in any 
case have been a war of retribution, for, after his vic- 
tory, David treated the prisoners with a severity 
which he did not display towards any of the other 
nations whom he conquered. The Moabite captives 
were fettered, and cast side by side on the ground, 


then measured with a rope, and two divisions were 
killed, whilst one division was spared. The whole 
land of Moab was subdued, and a yearly tribute was 
to be sent to Jerusalem. 

Some time afterwards, when Nahash, king of the 
Ammonites, died, David, who had been on friendly 
terms with him, sent an embassy to his son Hanun, 
with messages of condolence. This courtesy only 
roused suspicion in Rabbath-Ammon, the capital of 
the Ammonites. The new king's counsellors im- 
pressed him with the idea that David had sent his 
ambassadors as spies to Rabbah, in order to discover 
their weakness, to conquer them, and to deliver them 
over to the same fate that had befallen the Moabites. 
Hanun was so carried away by his suspicions that he 
offered an insult to the king of Israel which could 
not be passed over unnoticed. He obliged the 
ambassadors, whose persons, according to the laws 
of nations, were inviolable, to have their beards 
shaved off on one side, and their garments cut short, 
and thus disgraced he drove them out of the country. 
The ambassadors were ashamed to appear at Jeru- 
salem in this guise, but they informed David of the 
occurrence. He immediately prepared himself for 
battle, and the militia was called out; the old warriors 
girded their loins, and the Cherethite and Pelethite 
mercenaries sallied forth with their heroic leader 
Benaiah at their head. Hanun, who feared the valor 
of the Israelites, looked around for help, and en- 
gaged mercenary troops from among the Aramseans, 
who lived in the regions between the mountains of 
Hermon and the banks of the Euphrates. Hadade- 
zer, king of Zobah on the Euphrates, contributed the 
greatest number 20,000 men. David did not per- 
sonally conduct this war, but left the supreme com- 
mand with the careful and reliable Joab. Having led 
the Israelite army across the Jordan, Joab divided it 
into two bodies. With the one he attacked the 
Aramseans, the other he left under the command of 

CH. vin. HANUN'S INSULT. 127 

his brother Abishai. He aroused the enthusiasm of 
his army by inspiring words: " Let us fight bravely 
for our people and the city of our God, and may the 
Lord God do what seemeth good unto Him." Joab 
then dashed at the Aramaeans, and put them to flight. 
On this, the Ammonites were seized with such fear 
that they withdrew from the field, and took shelter 
behind the walls of their capital. It was a most suc- 
cessful achievement. Joab hurried to Jerusalem to 
report to the king, and to lay before him a plan by 
which the Aramaeans might be totally annihilated, 
and any future interference on their part prevented. 
The victorious army, having been recalled from the 
Ammonitish territories, was reinforced, and with the 
king himself at its head pursued the Aramaean enemy 
on the other side of the Jordan. King Hadadezer, on 
his part, also sent fresh troops to the aid of his de- 
feated forces, but in a battle at Helam, the Aramaean 
army was again defeated, and its general, Shobach, 
fell in the encounter. The vassals of the mighty 
Hadadezer then hastened to make peace with David. 

Toi (or Tou). the king of Hamath, who had been at 
war with Hadadezer, now sent his son Joram to 
David with presents, congratulating him on the vic- 
tory over their common foe. David followed up 
his successes until he reached the capital of king 
Hadadezer, situated on the banks of the Euphrates. 
The Aramaeans were then defeated a third time ; 
their chariots and soldiers could not withstand the 
attack of the Israelite army. The extensive district 
of Zobah, to which various princes had been tribu- 
tary, was divided into several parts. 

The king of Damascus, an ally of the king of 
Zobah, was also defeated by David, and the ancient 
town of Damascus henceforth belonged to the king 
of Israel. David placed land-overseers in all the 
Aramaean territories from Hermon to the Euphrates, 
in order to enforce the payment of tribute. David 
and his army themselves must have been astonished 


at the wonderful result which they had achieved. It 
rendered the king and his army objects of fear far 
and wide. Meanwhile the king of the Ammonites 
had escaped punishment for his insults to the ambas- 
sadors of Israel. In consequence of the campaign 
against the Aramaeans, which lasted nearly a year, the 
Israelitish army had been unable to resume the war 
against Hanun. It was only after the great events 
narrated above that David was again enabled to send 
his forces, under Joab, against Ammon. Yet another 
war arose out of the hostilities against this nation. 
The Idumaeans, on the south of the Dead Sea, had 
also assisted the Ammonites by sending troops to 
their aid, and these had to be humiliated now. David 
deputed his second general, Abishai, Joab's brother, 
to direct the campaign against the Idumaeans. Joab 
was in the meantime engaged in a long contest with 
the Ammonites, who had secured themselves behind 
the strong walls of their fortified capital, and were con- 
tinually making raids on their foes. The Israelitish 
army had neither battering rams nor other instru- 
ments of siege. Their only alternative was to 
storm the heights of the city, and in their attempts 
to carry out this plan they were often repelled by the 
bowmen on the walls. At length Joab succeeded, 
after repeated attacks, in gaining possession of one 
part of the city the Water-Town ; he reported 
this victory to David at once, and urged him to 
repair to the camp in order to lead in person the 
attack on the other quarters, so that the honour of 
the conquest might be entirely his own. When 
David arrived at Rabbah with fresh troops, he suc- 
ceeded in subduing the whole town, and in obtaining 
rich booty. David himself put on his head the 
golden diadem, richly adorned with precious stones, 
which had heretofore crowned the Ammonitish idol 
Malchom (Milchom). It appears that David did not 
destroy the city of Rabbah, as he had intended. 
He merely condemned the male inhabitants, or per- 


haps only the prisoners, to do hard work, such as 
polishing stones, threshing with iron rollers, hewing 
wood with axes, and making bricks. He treated the 
other prisoners from the various towns in a similar 
manner. Hanun, the original cause of the war, who 
had so deeply insulted David, was either killed or 
driven out of the kingdom. In his stead David 
appointed his brother Shobi as king. Meanwhile 
Abishai had been engaged in a war against the Idu- 
maean king, and had utterly routed him in the Valley 
of Salt probably in the neighbourhood of the rock- 
salt mountain, near the Dead Sea. Eighteen thousand 
Idumaeans are said to have fallen there. The rest 
orobably submitted ; and for this reason David con- 
tented himself with placing excise officers and a 
garrison over them, as he had done in Damascus and 
the other Aramaean provinces. The Idumaeans, how- 
ever, seem later on to have revolted against the 
Israelitish garrison and the tax collectors, and to have 
massacred them. Joab therefore repaired to Idumaea, 
caused the murdered Israelites to be buried, and all 
Idumaean males to be put to death. He was occupied 
with this war of destruction during half a year, and 
so thoroughly was the task executed that only a few 
of the male sex could save themselves by flight. 
Amongst them was a son or a grandson of the 
Idumaean king. 

By these decisive victories, in the west over the 
Philistines, in the south over the Idumaeans, in the 
east (on the opposite side of the Jordan) over the 
Moabites and Ammonites, and in the north over the 
Aramaeans, David had raised the power of Israel to 
an unexpected degree. While, at the commence- 
ment of his reign, when he was first acknowledged 
king of all Israel, the boundaries of the country had 
been comprised between Dan and Beersheba, he 
now ruled over the wide-spread territory from 
the river of Egypt (Rhinokolura, El-Arish) to the 
Euphrates, or from Gaza to Thapsacus (on the 


Euphrates). The nations thus subdued were obliged 
annually to do homage by means of gifts, to pay 
tribute, and perhaps also to send serfs to assist in 
building and other severe labour. 

These wars and victories were better calculated 
than his early hardships to bring to light the gr-eat 
qualities of David's mind. Strong and determined 
as he was in every undertaking in which the honour 
and safety of his people were involved, he remained 
modest and humble, without a spark of presumption, 
after success had been attained. He erected no 
monument to commemorate his victories as had 
been done by Saul ; like his general, Joab, he was 
imbued with the thought that to God alone was to 
be attributed the victory. The faith in God, to which 
David had given utterance when he prepared him- 
self for the duel with the Rephaite Goliath (i Samuel 
xvii. 47), he preserved in all great contests. David 
elaborated this guiding thought in a psalm, which he 
probably chanted before the ark at the close of the 
war, and in which he gives a retrospect of his entire 
past life. 

In consequence of their great victories, two firm 
convictions were impressed on the minds of the 
people, and these actuated and possessed them in 
all times to come. The one idea occurs in various 
forms: "A king cannot escape by the multitude of 
his army, nor a warrior by his power; vain is the 
horse for safety." God alone decides the fate of 
war, brings it to a close, gives victory or defeat, and 
"to Him it is equally easy to conquer with few or 
with many." The other idea, in closest connection 
with it, is that God leads the armies of Israel to vic- 
tory, if they go forth to glorify His name or to save 
His people. The God of Israel was, in accordance 
with this idea, designated by a special name which 
fully expresses this thought; He was named the 
God of hosts (Adonai Zebaoth), the God who gives 
victory unto Israel in its conflicts. The King 


Zebaoth was invoked before every battle, and the 
Israelitish troops went forth with the firm conviction 
that they could never be defeated. This confidence, 
certainly, worked wonders in the course of time. 

Severely as David treated the idols of the nations 
whom he had conquered, he behaved with com- 
parative leniency to the conquered idolaters. The 
Moabites alone were cruelly punished, and the Am- 
monites were enslaved, but the other conquered 
races were merely obliged to pay tribute. The 
offences of the former must have been very great 
to have deserved so heavy a punishment. The 
foreign races residing in the country were not mo- 
lested; thus we find Jebusites in Jerusalem, and 
Canaanites and Hittites in other parts of the coun- 
try. Hence we find many strangers and natives 
not of Israelitish descent enrolled in his corps of 
warriors, or leading their own troops in his service. 
The Hittite Uriah, one of David's thirty heroes, who 
was destined to play a melancholy part in David's 
career, was deeply attached to the Israelitish nation. 

The joy over these great achievements remained, 
however, but for a short time unmarred. The hap- 
piness of a state, like that of individuals, is but 
seldom of long duration, and days of sunshine must 
be followed by periods of darkness, to prevent the 
enervation of the national vigour. By one false step 
David lost not only his own inward contentment and 
peace, but shook the very foundations of that state 
which it had cost him such exertions to establish. 
When David returned home from the Aramaean 
war, and was resting from the fatigues of battle, 
which Joab and his army were still undergoing in 
the land of Ammon, he beheld from the roof of his 
palace a beautiful woman, who was bathing. She 
was the wife of one of his most faithful warriors (the 
Hittite, Uriah), and her name was Bathsheba. The 
houses of the warriors were built on Zion in the 
vicinity of the king's palace, and thus he happened to 


see Bathsheba. Carried away by his passion, he sent 
messengers to command her to repair to the palace, 
and Bathsheba obeyed. When David, some time 
after, found that this violation of the marriage tie 
had not been without consequences, his only thought 
was to save his honour, and thus he involved himself 
in deeper sin. He commanded Uriah to return to 
Jerusalem from the camp at Rabbah. He received 
him in a friendly manner, and gave him permission 
to rest, and enjoy the company of his wife. Uriah, 
however, made no use of this permission, but re- 
mained with the guard, who slept at the entrance of 
the king's palace, and protected his person. David 
was disappointed. He sought an escape from the 
dilemma, and this led him into a heinous crime. 
As he could not save his honour, he determined that 
Uriah should lose his life. David therefore sent him 
to the camp with a letter to Joab, saying that the 
bearer should be placed in a post of extreme danger 
-nay, of certain death during one of the sorties of 
the Ammonites. This command was fulfilled, and 
Uriah fell, struck dead by an Ammonite arrow. 
Bathsheba fulfilled the customary time of mourning 
for her husband, and was then received into the 
palace by David as his wife. 

In every other State the court circle would have 
discussed a king's fancy with bated breath; it would 
hardly have been blamed, and certainly it would soon 
have been forgotten. But in Israel there was an eye 
which could pierce this factitious darkness, and a con- 
science which declaimed in a loud voice against the 
crimes of even a royal wrong-doer. Prophetism pos- 
sessed this clear sight which never failed, and this con- 
science which never slept. It was its foremost duty not 
to allow sin to grow into a habit by hushing it up and 
screening it, but to expose it in glaring colors, and 
brand it with the stamp of public condemnation. 

David no doubt believed that Bathsheba alone was 
cognisant of his sin, and Joab the only accessory to 

CH. viii. DAVID'S SIN. 1 33 

the plot against Uriah's life. But this error was sud- 
denly and rudely dispelled. The prophet Nathan 
one day came to David, and requested permission 
to bring a certain case to his notice. He then 
related the following parable :- In a great city there 
lived a rich man, who possessed great flocks 
and herds; and near him lived a poor man who 
possessed but one little lamb, which he had reared 
for himself. One day, when a guest came to the 
rich man, he was too stingy to kill one of his flock 
for the meal, but he took the lamb of the poor man 
to feast his friend. On hearing this complaint, 
David's sense of justice was aroused, and he said 
indignantly that the heartless rich man deserved to 
die, and should pay the poor man four times the 
value of the lamb. Then the prophet replied, "Thou 
art the man !" 

Any other king would have punished the moralist 
who had dared speak the truth to a crowned head, 
to the representative of God on earth. David, how- 
ever, the pupil of the prophet Samuel, when the 
picture of his misdeeds was thus placed before him, 
penitently answered, " Yes, I have sinned." He cer- 
tainly did not fail to offer up heartfelt prayers, and 
to make atonement in order to obtain God's forgive- 
ness. The child which was born died in early infancy, 
although David had worn himself away in fasting 
and prayers for its life. Bathsheba afterwards had 
a second son named Jedidiah, or Solomon (1033), 
who became the favourite of his father. 

But though God pardoned the king for his heinous 
sins, humanity did not forgive them, and they proved 
fatal to domestic peace. Bathsheba, the wife of 
Uriah, was the daughter of Eliam (one of David's war- 
riors), and the granddaughter of his counsellor Ahi- 
thophel. The father and grandfather felt their honour 
disgraced through their daughter's seduction, which 
they could never forgive, although they kept silence, 
and did not betray their hatred. Ahithophel especi- 

1 34 HISTORY OF THE JEWS. CH. vill. 

ally nursed his vengeance in secret, and only awaited 
an opportunity to wreak it on the king. David did 
all in his power to appease them. He elevated 
Bathsheba to the rank of first queen, promised her 
secretly that her son should be his successor, and 
solemnly swore to fulfil this promise. He wished 
at any cost to make peace with Ahithophel, whose 
counsel was precious to him. Ahithophel, however, 
remained immovable. A scandalous event in the 
house of David involved matters to a still greater 
extent, and robbed his remaining years of all tran- 
quillity. His eldest son Amnon seduced his half- 
sister Tamar, and thereby aroused the fierce anger 
of her brother Absalom, who determined to avenge 
her. Each of the king's sons, six of whom had 
been born in Hebron, and eleven, in Jerusalem, had, 
when he attained manhood, his own house, house- 
hold and lands. Absalom's lands and herds were 
situated at Baal-Hazor, not far from the capital. 
Thither he invited all the king's sons to the feast of 
sheep-shearing. Whilst they and their guests were 
enjoying the feast, and drinking freely, Absalom's 
servants, at their master's command, attacked Am- 
non, and dealt him his death-blow. Absalom served 
a double purpose by this murder. He avenged the 
insult offered to his sister, and hoped to secure his 
own succession to the throne by ridding himself 
of his elder brother. The son of Abigail, the second 
in succession, was already dead, and so it seemed 
inevitable that he, as the third son, must be the suc- 
cessor. David's son a fratricide ! What will be the 
consequences of this bloody deed ? Only his faith 
in God saved him from becoming, like his predeces- 
sor, a victim to insanity, although the dire fate which 
had befallen him was but too real, and not merely 
the effect of a distrustful imagination. 

David's first impulse was to seek out the murderer, 
who had taken refuge with his grandfather, King Tal- 
mai, of Geshur, on the south-west boundary of Judaea, 


in order to deal with him as he deserved, even at the 
risk of going to war on his account. But there were 
various influences at work against such a policy. In 
fact, since the affair with Bathsheba, intrigues had 
been rife at David's court. Joab was opposed to the 
succession of the last-born, Solomon, and was natur- 
ally on the side of Absalom, the eldest surviving 
son. Ahithophel, David's infallible counsellor, also 
favoured Absalom's claim to the throne, because he 
could use him as a tool against his father. On the 
other hand, Adonijah, David's fourth son, advocated 
the infliction of condign punishment on Absalom. 
Adonijah thought his prospects of displacing the infant 
Solomon fairer than his chance with the remorseless 
Absalom. If the latter were punished for fratricide, 
Adonijah would be the next in succession. He and 
his mother Haggith may perhaps, therefore, have 
incensed David against Absalom, but Joab and 
Ahithophel were wiser, and knew how to exert their 
influence in favour of abandoning all warlike attempts 
upon him or his grandfather, whose protection he 
was enjoying. 

When David had at length decided on seizing or 
demanding the surrender of his guilty son (though 
he had been absent for three years), Joab employed a 
ruse to turn the king from his resolve. He sent for 
a woman living in the adjacent town of Tekoah, 
who had a reputation for adroit and clever speech. 
With her he devised a plan to make the king 
realise how horrible it was for a father to be willing 
to put to death a son for the not altogether 
unjustifiable murder of his brother. The wise 
woman of Tekoah consequently appeared before 
the king in mourning garments, and as though 
invoking his mercy she called out in an entreating 
voice and with deep prostrations, Help ! O king, 
help! When she stated her fictitious case, the 
king readily recognised the hidden point of her 
story, and the allusion to his own case, and he 


demanded an open answer from her as to whether 
Joab had assisted her in her disguise and invention. 
When the woman of Tekoah had confessed the 
truth, the king sent for Joab, and assured him 
that he no longer entertained evil intentions against 
Absalom, and assigned to him the task of conducting 
his son to Jerusalem. The woman of Tekoah had, 
in her ingenious manner, made it clear to him that 
blood-revenge against his own son would be a con- 
tradiction in itself. 

Joab himself brought Absalom from Geshur to 
Jerusalem. The son, however, was not permitted to 
appear before his father, but was obliged to remain 
in his own house. By this means Joab uncon- 
sciously sowed the seeds of dissension in the house 
of David. Night and day, Absalom, in his isola- 
tion and disgrace, brooded over the vile plan of 
deposing his father. But he dissembled in order to 
lull the latter's suspicion. To this end it was abso- 
lutely necessary that a reconciliation should be 
effected. Joab, who earnestly desired peace between 
father and son, became the mediator, and David 
decided that, after a two years' exile from his pres- 
ence, his son might now be allowed to return. At 
this meeting, Absalom played to perfection the part 
of the penitent, obedient son; David then gave 
him a fatherly embrace, and the reconciliation was 
complete. Seven years had passed since the death 
of Amnon. But now Absalom's intrigues com- 
menced. No doubt he had frequent meetings with 
Ahithophel, and was following his advice. He ob- 
tained chariots and horses from Egypt, procured a 
guard of fifty men, and displayed regal grandeur. 
He arose betimes in the morning, listened to dis- 
putes, and found every one's case just, but regretted 
that the king would not listen to all, and would 
not give justice to all. He hinted that were he the 
judge, no one would have to complain of difficulty 
in obtaining his dues. Absalom pursued this course 


for four years after the reconciliation with his father. 
He was the handsomest man of his times. He was 
then about thirty, and in the full pride of his strength. 
His beautitul thick hair fell in waves over his neck 
and shoulders, like the mane of a lion. His affability 
won him the hearts of all who approached him. David 
was so blinded that he did not see how his crafty son 
was alienating the affections of the people from their 
sovereign, whilst Absalom merely awaited a favour- 
able opportunity to proceed against his father, to 
dethrone him, and perhaps to attempt his life. This 
opportunity soon offered itself. 

It appears that David was occupied, in the last 
decade of his reign, with a comprehensive plan, 
apparently that of a great war which would require 
a numerous body of soldiers. He had already 
enlisted bands of mercenaries, six hundred Hittites, 
who, with their general Ittai, (whose admiration for 
David secured his unswerving attachment), had 
arrived from Gath. The king also wished to ascer- 
tain the number of able-bodied men over twenty 
years of age in all the Israelitish tribes, in order 
to determine whether he could undertake with 
their aid a campaign which would probably prove 
severe and tedious. The king delegated the office 
of numbering the men who could bear arms to his 
commander-in-chief, Joab, and the other generals. 
The work of enumeration lasted nine months and 
twenty days. From the numbers which were handed 
in, supposing them to be correct, it appears that, out 
of an entire population of 4,000,000, there were 
1,300,000 men and youths capable of bearing arms. 
This counting of the nation, however, proved to 
be a mistake for which David had to pay heavily. 
The people were highly incensed against him. In 
itself the act was displeasing to them, as they saw in 
it the preliminaries to enlistments for a war of long 
duration ; added to this was the fear that the counting 
itself must be attended by evil results, for such was 


the view held in those days. A fearful pestilence 
broke out, which carried off great numbers, and 
confirmed all minds in the belief that it had arisen 
in consequence of the numbering of the people. The 
capital, being densely populated, naturally suffered 
the greatest loss from the pestilence. On seeing 
the heaps of corpses, or, to speak in the metaphori- 
cal language of those days, at sight of " the angel 
of Destruction " that had snatched away so many, 
David exclaimed : " I have sinned and done wrong, 
but what has my poor flock done ? Let thy hand 
strike me and the house of my fathers." The plague 
having spared Mount Moriah, where the Jebusites 
had settled, the prophet Gad bade the king erect an 
altar, and offer up sacrifices on that mountain, and he 
announced that the pestilence would then be averted 
from Jerusalem. Without hesitation, David and his 
entire court repaired thither. When the chief of the 
Jebusites, Ornah (Araunah), saw David approaching, 
he hurried to meet him, saluted him humbly, and 
asked what was his desire. David then informed 
him that he wished to buy the mountain in order to 
build an altar on it. Ornah graciously offered him 
the spot and all appertaining to it as a gift, but David 
refused to accept it. No sooner was an altar hastily 
erected there and a sacrifice offered, than the pestilence 
ceased in Jerusalem. From that time Mount Moriah 
was considered a sacred spot, which destruction could 
not approach; it was also the mountain on which 
Abraham was supposed to have offered his son Isaac 
as a sacrifice. 

In consequence of this plague the nation conceived 
a dislike to David ; it condemned him for the loss of 
the thousands of human beings whom the Angel of 
Destruction had snatched away. Ahithophel made 
use of this dislike in order to avenge himself on 
David, and he employed Absalom as his tool, and, 
with him, contrived a conspiracy which could not fail 
to succeed. 


Absalom secretly despatched messengers in every 
direction, in order to give those adherents who were 
already attached to him the necessary signal. The 
insurrection was to be set on foot in Hebron, an out- 
post of the tribe of Judah, whose elders had already 
been won for Absalom. The latter invented subter- 
fuges by which to deceive David as to the true 
purpose of his visit to Hebron, and the king per- 
mitted him to depart without suspicion. 

Absalom arrived at Hebron, attended by his friends 
and guards, and by two hundred prominent men of 
Jerusalem, whom he had invited under some pretext, 
and who did not suspect his real aims. These two 
hundred men, through their very ignorance of mat- 
ters, contributed to the success of the project. The 
people of Hebron, seeing that even prominent men 
had joined Absalom's party, gave up David's cause 
as lost, Ahithophel, who had likewise invented a 
pretext to absent himself from court, openly declared 
for Absalom, thus giving his cause an immense ac- 
cession of power, as he was known to be David's 
right hand. 

The traitorous plan succeeded but too well. The 
Hebronites and others present saluted Absalom as 
king, forswore their allegiance to David, and sacri- 
ficed burnt-offerings. Ambition prompted various 
members of David's family also to join Absalom. 
This was more especially the case with Amasa, his 
cousin, who considered himself a great commander, 
and thought that Joab had unjustly been preferred 
to him. The messengers then gave the signal 
previously agreed upon, and the conspirators who 
sided with Absalom gathered together, and shouted 
" Long live King Absalom !" They carried with 
them all who had been incensed against David for 
taking a census of the people, and in fact all who 
hoped to gain some advantage from changes and 
dissension. The Benjamites, whom the accession 
of David had deprived of supremacy, and the ever- 


dissatisfied Ephraimites, were more particularly 
delighted at David's downfall, and willingly did 
homage to the usurper ; they hoped to regain their 
former freedom through David's misfortunes. They 
had greater chances of obtaining power under Ab- 
salom, who was very vain, and not likely to retain 
the favour of the nation for a long time, than under 
the rule of David. The chief towns of all the tribes 
sent ambassadors to Hebron to salute the new king, 
and his adherents daily increased in number. At 
first the conspiracy was kept secret from those in 
authority; no one was permitted to journey to Jeru- 
salem, lest the news spread. David received the 
information of his own dethronement and the acces- 
sion of his son simultaneously with the news that the 
houses of Judah and Israel had renounced their alle- 
giance to him. 

It was a terrible blow for the king. But his resolve 
was soon taken ; he would not resort to a civil war, 
as the sons of Zeruiah and many other faithful fol- 
lowers probably urged him to do. Deserted by all the 
tribes, he would be obliged to shut himself up in his 
capital. The city would not be able to resist the at- 
tack of so large an army ; and he saw, now that he was 
undeceived, that Absalom would not scruple to turn 
Jerusalem into a sea of blood. David felt deeply 
wounded by the alliance of Ahithophel with his 
usurping son, and he was greatly discouraged by it. 
He saw, too late, that the conspiracy was of long 
standing, that the plan had been maturely considered, 
and that resistance on his part would only lead to 
his own destruction. He therefore announced to his 
people that he would depart from Jerusalem in all 
haste, before Absalom could leave Hebron with his 
numerous followers. 

This step was instrumental in proving to David 
that he still had faithful friends, who would be true 
to him till death. When, on leaving his palace, he 
passed the Place of the Sellers of Ointment, he ob- 

CH. vni. DAVID'S FLIGHT. 141 

served to his great joy that a great concourse fol- 
lowed him. Not only his general, Joab, with his 
brother, Abishai, and their followers ; not only a great 
number of the warrior-corps (Gibborim), the hired 
troops, Cherethites and Pelethites, with Benaiah their 
leader, but also Ittai the Hittite, with six hundred men, 
whom David had only a short time before enlisted. 
The entire population wept aloud, whilst David with- 
drew to the Vale of Kedron, where he mustered his 
followers before taking the road over the Mount 
of Olives to the desert near the Jordan. He did 
not venture to take refuge in a city from fear of 

Later on the two high priests Zadok and Abiathar 
with all the Levites hurried after him, bearing the 
ark of the covenant with them. David, however, 
urged the priests to return to Zion with the ark, saying, 
" If by God's mercy I shall be permitted to return 
to Jerusalem, then I shall again behold the ark of the 
covenant and the sanctuary; if not, if God rejects 
me, I am ready to endure what seemeth good unto 
Him." It also appeared to him that the priests could 
be of more service to him if they remained in Jeru- 
salem than if they joined him in exile. Whilst, then, 
the priests hastily took the ark back to Jerusalem, 
David ascended the Mount of Olives barefoot, his 
head covered, and his face bathed in tears. All his at- 
tendants wept bitterly. But when his grief and despair 
had reached their climax, a friend, who was to give him 
help, came from the other side of the Mount of Olives, 
and met him at its highest point. Hushai from the city 
of Erech was a confidant of David, and a counsellor 
of no less wisdom than Ahithophel. He advanced 
in mourning array, his garments torn, and earth 
upon his head, prepared to share the king's flight. 
David, however, refused to permit this, because, being 
an aged man, he would only be a burden. In 
Absalom's vicinity he might do valiant service by 
counteracting Ahithophel's counsels, and by keeping 


David informed of all that occurred. Hushai there- 
fore repaired to Jerusalem. 

The first town through which David passed in his 
flight was the Benjamite city of Bahurim. Far from 
meeting with a friendly reception there, he was received 
with insult and neglect. A Benjamite named Shimei, 
of the house of Gera, reviled and cursed him, saying, 
" Thou outcast and man of blood, God will repay thee 
for thy treatment of the house of Saul, whose crown 
thou hast stolen." He followed David's march for 
a long distance, throwing stones and earth at him, so 
that the soldiers had to shield the king. David, how- 
ever, had some friends in Bahurim also. Humbled 
and exhausted, the king at length accomplished the 
jfourney through the desert, and reached the neigh- 
bourhood of Jericho with his forces. 

Here he could recruit his energies after his recent 
bodily and mental exertions, while awaiting the news 
which his faithful adherents would transmit to him 
from Jerusalem. 

When David was approaching the banks of the Jor- 
dan, Absalom arrived in Jerusalem with his traitorous 
adherents, among them Ahithophel, the faithless coun- 
sellor. Ahithophel urged the usurper to commit ever 
greater crimes in order to widen the breach between 
him and his father, and render a reconciliation im- 
possible ; he advised him to take possession of his 
father's harem. It mattered little to Ahithophel 
that Absalom would incur the hatred of the people 
through this fresh misdeed. His sole object was to 
revenge himself on David, and to ruin him. The 
weak-minded sinner who called himself king, and 
who was incapable of undertaking anything, unless 
incited thereto by others, allowed himself to be 
induced to commit this crime. But, whilst Absalom 
was revelling in sin, the man who was destined to 
frustrate all his ruthless plans was near at hand. 
Hushai had apparently submitted to the new king, 
and had assured him that he would serve him as 

CH. viil. DEATH OF ABSALOM. 143 

faithfully as he had served his father, and Absalom 
relied on this promise. He called a council to con- 
sider the most expedient plan for defeating and 
ruining his father. The elders of the tribes, who 
were in the city, were invited to attend. Ahithophel 
gave the diabolical advice to attack David that very 
night with a strong army, to disperse his following 
in a sudden onslaught made by a force its superior 
in point of numbers, and to capture and slay the 
king, whom he imagined to be utterly worn out and 
dispirited. But Absalom also consulted Hushai with 
regard to the campaign against his father, and 
Ahithophel's advice was rejected by him as impracti- 
cable. Hushai urged such plausible objections that 
Absalom was duped by them ; he advised that 
David should not be attacked with a small force, 
but that Absalom should raise from the entire nation 
from Dan to Beersheba an army whose numbers 
would render it irresistible. Hushai's advice was 
more favourably received than Ahithophel's, and steps 
were forthwith taken to act upon it. The attack was 
postponed, and the campaign was deferred till the 
numerous forces could be assembled. Hushai im- 
mediately conveyed the results of the meeting to 
David by means of Jonathan and Ahimaaz, the sons 
of the High Priest. 

The first result of these events was favourable to 
the cause of David, for Ahithophel departed from 
Jerusalem, and hanged himself in his native town of 
Gilo. He was led to this course either by disgust 
at Absalom's conduct in setting aside his counsel, 
or by the conviction that Absalom's cause would be 
lost through delay, and that he himself would reap 
well-deserved punishment. This suicide was a 
severe blow to the usurper, for he had no capable 
man amongst his followers, and he himself was 
neither warlike nor prudent. His general Amasa 
had but little military genius. The enrolment of 
soldiers was actually begun, but before it could be 


completed David had obtained an important advan- 
tage. He went to Mahanaim, the inhabitants of 
which town received him with a welcome as cordial 
as that which in former times they had extended to 
the fugitive son of Saul. All the Israelites on the 
opposite side of the Jordan offered their assistance, 
and placed themselves under his command. Two 
men of Gilead outvied each other in attentions to 
the unhappy king and father, and provided him and 
his followers with all necessaries. They were old 
men Barzillai from Rogelim, and Machir from 
Lo-debar and help came also from Shobi, king of 
Ammon, the son of Nahash. When at length Absa- 
lom or Amasa had succeeded in collecting a large 
force, they crossed the Jordan by means of rafts, and 
approached Mahanaim. The Absalomites encamped 
opposite the wood without any particular plan or 
order. David, on the other hand, divided his army 
into three divisions, commanded respectively by 
Joab, Abishai and Ittai, who were all proved and 
competent soldiers. David himself was not per- 
mitted to accompany them, as his generals knew 
too well his love for his wicked son. The contest 
cost many human lives. Although Absalom's forces 
exceeded those of David in point of numbers, yet 
they were defeated, for they were not well disciplined, 
and were not able to find their way in the forest. 
David's troops, on the other hand, fought valiantly. 
The forest was more destructive than the sword. 
Twenty thousand warriors are said to have fallen 
there. The forest of Rephaim was also the cause 
of Absalom's personal destruction. His long hair, 
of which he was very vain, caught in the branches 
of an oak, and the mule he had been riding gal- 
loped away. It seems providential that the death-blow 
was dealt by Joab, who had formerly favoured him, 
and who had thus unwittingly assisted him in his 
conspiracy. Joab then sounded the horn as a signal 
for David's army to cease from the contest, and the 

CH. vni. DAVID'S RETURN. 145 

adherents of Absalom took to flight, and crossed the 

Thus ended the second civil war of David's reign, 
a war which was the more unnatural because of the 
close relationship between the rival combatants, and 
the sad causes which led to the contest. The first 
duty of the victors was to transmit the news of their 
triumph to David. This was in itself a painful office, 
for all knew how deeply David would feel the death 
of his wicked son. David was terrified at the news, 
wept and sobbed, and cried repeatedly, "My son, my 
son, Absalom; would, I had fallen instead of thee! ' 
The depths of a father's heart are unsearchable. Per- 
haps, he considered Absalom in the light of a victim 
whom Ahithophel had inveigled and urged on to re- 
bellion. The warriors dared not enter Mahanaim 
as victors, but repaired homewards stealthily, as 
though humiliated after a defeat. David would 
see and speak to no one, but mourned continu- 
ally for his son's loss. At length Joab took heart, 
and reproached him in harsh terms for indulging in 
continued mourning, and thereby manifesting ingrati- 
tude towards his soldiers. In order to rouse the 
king, Joab further threatened that if he did not im- 
mediately show himself to his soldiers, and address 
them kindly, his faithful followers would leave the 
same night, and he would remain alone and helpless. 
These sharp words of the rough but faithful Joab 
induced David to rouse himself, and appear before 
the people. The corpse of Absalom was thrown into 
a cave, and covered with a heap of stones. He left 
a beautiful daughter, but his three sons had been 
snatched away by death before his revolt, as though 
it were destined that no son of his should witness 
the attempt against his father's life. During his 
short reign at Jerusalem, he had erected a splendid 
monument in the " King's Valley," to perpetuate 
his own name. Intended for his glorification, it 
became the commemoration of his disgrace. After 


the close of the war, David contemplated returning 
to Jerusalem. He did not wish, however, to force 
the tribes into submission, he preferred to await their 
repentant return to him, and the renewal of their 
oaths of allegiance. It was a curious fact that the 
tribes of the north were the first to take this course. 
Ihe voice of the people appealed to the elders to 
lead them back to their king. They cried, "The 
king 1 who delivered us from our enemies, and freed 
us from the yoke of the Philistines, was forced by 
Absalom to flee from his own country. Absalom is 
now dead. Why do you not hasten to bring back 
our king? Come, let us lead him home." There- 
upon the elders of the tribes invited David to re- 
turn to his capital; and thus, a second time, they 
acknowledged him as king. Contrary to all expec- 
tation, the tribe of Judah, and naturally the tribe of 
Benjamin were still holding back. They did not 
move one step to welcome their king. Probably the 
men of Judah felt bitterly ashamed of the revolt they 
had started in Hebron, and did not venture to 
entreat David's pardon. Perhaps, too, the discon- 
tent which had incited them to forswear their alle- 
giance was still at work amongst them. It seems 
that Amasa, who had fled to Jerusalem after the 
defeat in the forest of Gilead, still exercised great 
influence over the men of Judah. 

When David saw that the tribe of Judah was still 
holding aloof from him, he commanded the two priests, 
Zadok and Abiathar, who had remained in Jerusalem, 
to admonish the elders of Judah to invite their king to 
return. He told the priests to assure Amasa that 
he would not only receive a free pardon, but even 
retain his rank as general. With this prospect 
before him, Amasa determined to accept David's 
offers, and he persuaded the elders to accede to the 
king's proposal. The men of Judah thereupon sent 
an invitation to David, and an embassy went forth 
to meet the king, and receive him at Gilgal. The 

CH. vin. DAVID'S RETURN. 147 

men 01' Benjamin were sorely puzzled by this conduct. 
What were they to do? The Benjamites had publicly 
shown themselves inimical to David when he had 
fled from Jerusalem through their territory; they 
had not thought it possible that he would ever 
return, and reclaim his throne. Now affairs had 
changed, and not only the northern tribes, but even 
Judah was preparing to do him homage. The 
Benjamites felt no attachment to David, but they 
could not isolate themselves, for then the king's 
wrath would fall heavily on them. Shimei, whose 
insults had caused David such bitter pain during his 
flight, and who, in consequence, had most cause to 
fear the king's anger, advised that they should dis- 
play intense enthusiasm for David's cause, exceeding 
that of the other tribes, since, by appealing to his 
generosity, they might incline him favourably to- 
wards them. In obedience to this advice, one thou- 
sand Benjamites went forward to meet David, joined 
the Judaean embassy, and, on arriving at the bank of 
the Jordan, threw a bridge across the river in order 
to facilitate the king's transit. Meanwhile the king 
had left Mahanaim, and was approaching the Jordan, 
attended by his court, his servants, and the faithful 
followers who had joined him on the opposite shore. 
Shimei advanced before all the others, threw himself 
at the king's feet as he was about to cross the river, 
acknowledged his fault, and entreated David's for- 
giveness. David now returned with a larger con- 
course of followers than had accompanied him on his 
flight across the Jordan: he was attended by the 
Judaean embassy, by a thousand Benjamites, and by 
the faithful friends who formed his guard of honour. 
The first town reached after crossing the Jordan 
was Gilgal. Here the ambassadors of the different 
tribes on this side of the river were assembled to 
renew their homage ; they felt surprised and an- 
noyed that the Judaeans had stolen a march on them 
by meeting the king at the very shore of the Jordan. 


They saw in this eager display of loyalty, which they 
could not consider sincere, an effort on the part of 
the house of Judah to regain the king's favour, to the 
detriment of the house of Israel. 

The elders of Israel made no secret of their dis- 
pleasure, and gave vent to it in David's presence ; 
the Judaeans, however, retaliated on them. The ques- 
tion of precedency degenerated into a violent quar- 
rel, the Judseans making angry retorts, thus offend- 
ing the northern tribes still more. Bitter animosity 
arose between the contending parties; David ap- 
pears to have inclined to the side of the Judseans. 
Sheba, a Benjamite of the family of Bichri, taking 
advantage of the general confusion, sounded the 
trumpet and cried, " We have no portion in David, 
and no share in the son of Jesse ; let every Israelite 
return to his tent." Heeding this cry, the elders of 
the northern tribes withdrew, and followed Sheba the 
Bichrite. The men of Judah alone remained faithful 
to David, and accompanied him to Jerusalem. The 
joy of their return was mingled with annoyance: a 
fresh breach had arisen, a civil war was imminent. 
At this sad juncture David had recourse to a step 
which may be considered either very wise or very 
foolish. Joab had become obnoxious to him since 
the king had leasned that he had killed Absalom, and 
David did not wish him to fill the office of general 
any longer. Besides this, he desired to keep his 
word with Amasa, and to appoint him to the cffice of 
commander-in-chief. David, being now dependent 
on the tribe of Judah, felt the necessity of retaining 
Amasa's good-will, as the latter's influence had im- 
mense weight with the Judseans. Without consulting 
Joab, he commanded Amasa to summon the forces 
of the tribe of Judah within three days, in order to 
proceed against the rebels. The time expired, and 
Amasa did not return. David became uneasy; he 
thought Amasa might have deceived him, and made 
common cause with the insurgents. It was neces- 


sary to be expeditious, lest Sheba's followers increase 
in numbers, and also gain time to occupy fortified 
cities. David had no choice but to turn to the sons 
of Zeruiah, who, in their unswerving fidelity, had 
remained true to him in spite of frequent slights, and 
whose skill in matters of war he had amply tested. 
David would not, however, give the supreme com- 
mand to Joab, but entrusted it to his brother Abishai. 
He set out with the Cherethites and Pelethites, who 
were to form the nucleus of the army which he 
hoped to collect on the way. Joab overlooked the 
insult which had been offered him, and joined the 
troops, or rather became their leader. He appears 
to have issued an appeal to the people to gather 
around him. When Amasa joined them in Gibeon, 
Joab killed him with one stroke of his sword, and 
the Judaeans, whom Amasa had collected, followed 
the sons of Zeruiah. In all the towns, fresh par- 
tisans and followers attached themselves to David's 
cause. Sheba found but few adherents, the northern 
tribes being unwilling to begin a civil war for the 
sake of a man who was but little known, and who 
was followed only by a small band of soldiers. 
He had thrown himself into the fortified town of 
Abel, and a part of his followers occupied the town 
of Dan, which lay at an hour's distance from the 
base of Mount Hermon, not far from the source 
of the Jordan. Joab quickly ordered a trench to be 
dug round the town of Abel, and without calling 
on the inhabitants to surrender, he began to under- 
mine the walls. The inhabitants became greatly 
alarmed. Then a wise woman called from the wall 
to the sappers below to summon Joab. When he 
approached, she addressed him reproachfully, " Thou 
shouldst have asked first in Abel and Dan that 
thou mightest have heard, whether all those who are 
faithful and peace-loving have departed from Israel. 
Why wilt thou slaughter the mothers and the chil- 
dren of Israel ? Why wilt thou destroy the inherit- 


ance of Jacob?" Joab replied that he did not wish 
to do this, that he merely desired to capture the man 
who had lifted his hand against the king. On this 
the woman promised that the head of the rebel should 
soon be thrown over the wall. She kept her word, 
for she secretly persuaded her fellow-citizens to sep- 
arate Sheba from his few followers, and to kill him. 
His gory head was cast over the wall, and Joab 
raised the siege, dismissed his soldiers, and returned 
to Jerusalem with the news of his victory. The king 
was obliged, against his will, to leave him in command 
of the army. 

David returned to his capital with a purged soul. 
He had suffered and atoned heavily for his sins. 
He had taken away the wife of his faithful servant, 
and his son had taken away his wives. He had spilt 
Uriah's blood, and the streams of blood shed in his 
own house had almost overwhelmed him. He had 
found by bitter experience that even the best king 
cannot build on his people's love. His plan of 
undertaking a great war against his heathen foes 
was shattered. He, therefore, in his old age, during 
the last years of his reign, confined his attention to the 
internal affairs of his kingdom. He wished to carry 
out, before death overtook him, an idea he had long 
cherished. He wished to build a magnificent temple 
to the God of Israel, xvho had rescued him in his many 
troubles. Before commencing, David consulted 
Nathan, the prophet; for in those days the prophet 
ranked higher than the priest. He said, " I live in a 
palace of cedar wood, whilst the Ark of God is 
only in a temporary tent. I will build a temple of 
cedar for it ! " Nathan approved the plan and said, 
" Carry out all that is in thy heart, for God is with 
thee!" The next day, however, the prophet came 
to him, and revealed to David that he was not des- 
tined to build a temple, because he had shed blood, 
but that this task would be reserved for his son. At 
the same time David was informed that his throne 


was established for many years to come, that a 
long succession of kings would descend from him, 
and occupy his throne, provided that they walked 
in the ways of God. Much as David had wished 
to build a stately temple in Jerusalem, he bowed 
humbly to the divine decree revealed to him by 
Nathan, and gave up his project. Before the ark of 
the covenant, he thanked God in a heartfelt prayer 
for the mercies bestowed on him, who had been 
raised up from the dust. His heart was filled with 
gratitude that his royal house and his throne were to 
be established for many years to come. David gave 
expression to this feeling in a psalm, which, however, 
has not the same verve as his former songs ; it was, 
perhaps, his last poetic prayer. 

Although David did not commence the erection 
of the temple himself, he began to make the neces- 
sary preparations. He devoted to the sanctuary a 
part of the booty which he had acquired from the 
conquered nations. He also regulated the order in 
which divine services were to be conducted, by having, 
according to Samuel's method, choirs of Levites to 
play on the harp and sing psalms, in addition to the 
ordinary sacrificial rites. He is also considered the 
inventor of the various musical instruments which 
were later on introduced into the service. 

David's vital energy began to decrease before he 
had attained his seventy-first year. The anxieties of 
his youth, the constant warfare, the exciting events 
in his own family, Amnon's sinfulness and Absalom's 
revolt caused him to grow old at a comparatively 
early age. He felt no warmth in his body; he felt 
cold despite the torrid heat of Jerusalem, and all the 
clothes which he could procure did not seem to 
supply him with the necessary vital heat. 

Adonijah, the king's fourth son, endeavoured, 
by taking advantage of David's failing powers, to 
secure the succession. He was the next heir after 
Amnon and Absalom, but he feared that he might 


be passed over if he awaited the death of his father, 
and he had probably heard of the secret under- 
standing, according to which the son of Bathsheba, 
his youngest brother, \vas to succeed to the throne. 
Adonijah had no desire to rebel against his lather 
as Absalom had done, he merely wished to have 
his right to the succession recognised by the chief 
dignitaries of the kingdom. He therefore took 
counsel with those of David's court who were opposed 
to Solomon's succession. Foremost amongst these 
was Joab, who supported him as he had formerly 
supported Absalom. Adonijah's other confidant was 
Abiathar, the second of the high priests, who seems 
to have been placed in an inferior position by David. 
Zadok, whose family had been appointed hereditary- 
high priests by Saul at Gibeon, had been retained in 
that position by David, who wished to secure his 
support, and therefore bestowed upon him the 
highest rank in the sanctuary. Abiathar may have 
felt hurt by this neglect, and perhaps took the part 
of Adonijah in order to secure the position he 
could not hope to obtain under Solomon. The 
other sons of the king also wished to see the throne 
assured to Adonijah, and thus intrigues at the 
court commenced afresh. Adonijah was as hand- 
some and as popular as Absalom had been, and also, 
it appears, as thoughtless and as unfit for governing. 
Like Absalom, he began to draw the eyes of the 
people upon himself by a truly royal display; he 
procured chariots and attendants on horseback, and 
kept a guard of fifty runners, who preceded him 
wherever he went. David was weak in his behaviour 
to him, as he had been to Absalom permitted him 
to have his own way, and thus tacitly acknowledged 
him as his successor. One day Adonijah invited his 
confidants, Joab, Abiathar, and all the king's sons 
excepting Solomon, to a meeting. They offered up 
sacrifices near a well, and during the feast his fol- 
lowers cried, "Long live King Adonijah ! ' 


The first to take exception to Adonijah's proceed- 
ings was Nathan the prophet. He knew of the 
secret promise, given by David to his wife Bathsheba, 
that Solomon should inherit the crown. He had 
also revealed to David that Solomon was appointed 
by God to be his successor. He seems to have had 
confidence in Solomon's character, and to have 
expected better things from him than from Adonijah. 
Nathan, therefore, went to Bathsheba, and they 
devised a plan by which Adonijah's scheme might be 
overthrown. Bathsheba then repaired to the king, 
reminded him of his oath, and directed his atten- 
tion to the fact that, in the event of Adonijah's suc- 
cession, she and her son both would be lost, and 
her marriage would be branded with ignominy. 

Hardly had she ended the description of the sad 
fate which awaited her if Solomon's claims were set 
aside, when the prophet Nathan was announced, 
and confirmed her assertions. David's resolve was 
quickly taken, and carried into effect on the same 
day, for he was most anxious to keep his oath to 
leave the sceptre to Solomon. He called upon the 
dignitaries who had not conspired with Adonijah, on 
Zadok, Benaiah and the warriors, and announced to 
them his resolve that Solomon should be anointed 
king during his own lifetime, and they all solemnly 
promised to acknowledge Solomon. Thereupon, 
David summoned the Cherethites and Pelethites to 
attend his son. Solomon then mounted one of the 
royal mules, and proceeded to the valley of Gihon, to 
the west of the town. A crowd of people joined the 
procession, and when the high-priest Zadok and the 
prophet Nathan had anointed him with oil from the 
tent of the sanctuary, the soldiers blew their trum- 
pets, and all the people cried, " Long live King 
Solomon ! " 

Great excitement now prevailed in Jerusalem. 
While the eastern mountains echoed with the cry 
of " Long live King Adonijah !" the western chain 


was resounding with shouts of " Long live King 
Solomon!" Had both the king's sons and their 
adherents remained obstinate, a civil war must have 
ensued. But Adonijah was not like Absalom he 
did not wish to excite a rebellion. Nor would his 
chief supporters, Joab and Abiathar, have assisted 
him in such an attempt. No sooner did Adonijah 
hear that Solomon had been anointed king by his 
father's command than his courage failed him. He 
hastened to the sanctuary at Zion in order to seek 
refuge in the holy of holies. Solomon, however, 
who had immediately taken the reins of government, 
sent to inform him that he might leave the sanctu- 
ary, that not a hair of his head should be touched so 
long as he did not attempt any fresh revolt. Ado- 
nijah then repaired to the young king, paid him due 
homage, and was dismissed with presents. Thus 
the contest for the succession ended. 

David's weakness gradually increased, until after 
a stormy reign of forty years and six months (1015), 
he expired peacefully. He was the first to occupy a 
place in the royal mausoleum which he had built in 
a rocky cave on the southern slope of Mount Zion. 

David's death was deeply mourned. He had 
made the nation great, independent and happy, and 
death transfigured him. When he had passed away, 
the nation began to realise the true value of his 
work, and what he had been to them. He had 
reunited the various tribes, each of which had before 
followed its own special interests, and he formed them 
into one nation. The revolts of Absalom and Sheba 
proved sufficiently how strong the feeling had be- 
come which bound the tribes together. The house 
of Israel did not seize the opportunity offered by his 
death of severing itself from the house of Judah, 
and great as was their jealousy of each other, they 
held together. David had removed every induce- 
ment for party divisions, and had knit them together 
with a kind but firm hand. During his reign the 

CH. viii. DAVID'S DEATH. 155 

priesthood and the prophets worked amicably to- 
gether. Thus Solomon was anointed by the high 
priest Zadok in conjunction with the prophet Nathan. 
David maintained friendly relations between the 
priestly houses of Eleazar and Ithamar, represented 
by Zadok and Abiathar respectively. The nation 
had no reason to complain of oppression, for he 
dealt justly to the extent of his ability. By de- 
stroying the power of the Philistines, who had so 
long held the neighbouring tribes in subjection, 
and by conquering the nations inhabiting the banks 
of the Euphrates, he had not only established internal 
prosperity, but had also founded a great empire 
which could vie in power with Egypt, and had 
cast into the shade the Chaldaean and Assyrian 
kingdoms on the Euphrates and the Tigris. By this 
means he had roused the people to the proud con- 
sciousness that it constituted a mighty nation of the 
Lord, the possessor of the law of God, the superior 
of the neighbouring nations. David's sins were 
gradually forgotten, for his atonement had been both 
grievous and manifold. Posterity pronounced a 
milder judgment on him than did his contempo- 
raries. The remembrance of his great deeds, his 
kindness, his obedience to God, caused him to ap- 
pear invested with the traits of an ideal king, who 
served as a pattern to all later rulers, one who had 
always walked in the ways of God, and never de- 
parted therefrom. The kings of his house who suc- 
ceeded him were measured by his standard, and 
were judged by the extent of their resemblance to 

David's reign shone through the ages as perfect, 
as one in which power and humility, fear of God 
and peace were united. Every succeeding century 
added its tribute to David's character, until he became 
the ideal of a virtuous king and sacred poet. 



The new King's Rule Solomon's Choice Poetic Allegory Murder 
of Adonijah and Joab The Court Alliance with Egypt 
Tyre Solomon's Buildings The Plan of the Temple The 
Workmen The Materials Description of the Temple The 
Ceremony of Consecration Reorganisation of the Priesthood 
The King's Palace The Throne Increase of National Wealth 
The Fleet The Seeds of Disunion Jeroboam Idolatry per- 
mitted Estrangement from Egypt Growth of surrounding 
Kingdoms Solomon's Fame His Death. 

1015 977 B. C. E. 

DAVID had left affairs in Israel in such perfect order 
that his successor, unless he were a fool or a knave, 
or the victim of evil advice, would have but little 
trouble in governing. Solomon, however, carried 
David's work still further. He shed such lustre 
upon Israel that even the most distant gener- 
ations basked in the light that emanated from 
his wise rule. Indeed, a king who solidifies and 
increases, if he does not actually found, the great- 
ness of the State ; who permits his people the enjoy- 
ment of peace; who sheds the bounties of plenty 
over his land, driving poverty away from the mean- 
est hovel ; who opens up new channels for the 
development of his people's powers, and who thus 
increases and strengthens them ; a king who has 
the intelligence to arouse his subjects to exercise 
their mental gifts, and cultivate their love of the 
beautiful; who, by his material and spiritual creations, 
elevates his country to the dignity of a model State, 
such as had never been before him and scarcely 
ever after him ; such a monarch assuredly deserves 
the high praise which posterity has accorded to him. 


Carried away by the greatness of his deeds for all 
these grand characteristics were strikingly prominent 
in Solomon men shut their eyes to his weaknesses, 
and considered them the inevitable result of human 
imperfection. In the first place he strove to preserve 
peace for his country, though his father had left him 
ample means for making fresh conquests. He was 
called the king of peace " Shelomo." By giving to 
his people the comforts of prosperity, he widened its 
horizon, and raised its self-respect. He ruled it with 
wisdom and justice, and decided with strict impar- 
tiality all contests between individuals as well as tribes. 
He increased the number of towns, and secured the 
safety of the roads and of the caravans. He filled 
the city of Jerusalem with splendour, and built 
therein a magnificent temple in honour of God. He 
himself cultivated the fine arts and poetry, and thereby 
endowed them with fresh attractions in the eyes of 
the people. Lastly, he set great aims before the 
nation, and was rightly called the wise king. 

History, the impartial arbitress, cannot, however, 
be blinded by his dazzling virtues to the blemishes 
which attach to his government, and which must be 
accounted the cause of the unfortunate breach which 
commenced when his grave was scarcely closed. 
The beginning of Solomon's rule was not free from 
stains of blood, and its end was clouded with mists, 
which dimmed its brightness ; his love of splendour 
became injurious to morality ; it made him despotic, 
and imposed a burden on the people, which it bore 
for a considerable time, but shook off at the first 
favourable opportunity. Solomon converted the 
kingly power into an autocracy, under which every 
will had to be subservient to his. But these blem- 
ishes were entirely hidden by the greatness of the 
achievements under his rule. It is impossible now 
to decide how far the responsibility of Solomon for 
these evils goes, how much of the blame rests with 
his too officious servants, and to what extent their 


existence must be attributed to the irresistible force 
of circumstances, to which the exalted and the lowly 
alike must submit. It is the curse of crowned heads 
that the worthiest wearer of a crown, in order to con- 
solidate his power, is induced to take steps which his 
conscience would under other circumstances con- 
demn, and the misdeeds of his servants are also 
added to his account. 

Solomon was young scarcely twenty when he 
ascended the throne. After his accession, whilst 
visiting the altar at Gibeon, we are told, he had a 
vision in which God asked him to express the inner- 
most wish of his heart, with the promise that it should 
be fulfilled. He did not choose long life, nor riches, 
nor honour, nor the death of his enemies; but he 
chose wisdom, in order that he might rule his people 
with justice. In fact, this wisdom, this power of 
entering into the feelings and minds of the dissenting 
parties who appeared before him, of seizing on the 
true state of the case in spite of exaggeration and 
subtle arguments, Solomon possessed to an extraor- 
dinary degree. The Solomonic judgment is well 
known. By giving a verdict which was well adapted 
to reveal the real feeling of a mother, he recognised, 
in a dispute between two women for the possession 
of a child, on which side was truth, on which side 
falsehood. " Cut the child in half," he said. But 
its real mother could not accept this decision, and 
offered rather to give up her child. He was deter- 
mined that no one in his kingdom should suffer from 
injustice. Though he may not have been the first that 
uttered the saying, "through justice a throne is 
established," yet it was a maxim after his own heart. 

The wisdom of Solomon is also displayed to great 
advantage in another direction, namely, in his poetic 
productions. These were chiefly allegorical poems 
(Mashal) ; in them he caused the lofty cedars of 
Lebanon, and the lowly creeping wall plants, to 
appear as the emblems of what is highest and 


humblest, quadrupeds, birds of the air, reptiles, and 
even dumb fish are given voice and speech. Each 
of these fables probably ended with an appropriate 
moral lesson. It has been related that Solomon 
composed three thousand of such fables and five 
thousand songs or proverbs. 

But Solomon was by no means the originator of 
this style of fiction. Long before him such compo- 
sitions had been common among the Israelites. 
Standing on Mount Gerizim, Jotham, the son of the 
Judge Gideon, addressed the misguided people of 
Shechem in an ingenious parable. The prophet 
Nathan had disguised his exhortation to David 
respecting his sin with Bathsheba in the form of a 
parable. But though not the inventor of this branch 
of poetry, Solomon is still deserving of praise for 
devoting the time left unoccupied by the cares of 
government to its further development. His rare 
qualities of mind were displayed in yet another 
direction. In some of his compositions he delineates 
types of persons and things by means of allusions, 
the hidden meaning of which is left to guessing. 
Such enigmas, presented in a poetic form, were in 
those days the favourite diversions of social gather- 
ings and feasts, and Solomon possessed remarkable 
ingenuity in devising these recreations of the human 

He was, however, guilty of errors, the greater part 
of which arose from an exaggerated idea of his royal 
dignity, and from imitating the kings of the neigh- 
bouring states of Tyre and Egypt, with whom he was 
in constant intercourse. He claimed for himself a 
prerogative almost impious in a mortal, namely, that 
of being considered identical with the State, all 
interests were to centre in him, and all else was to 
be of comparatively little importance. Solomon's 
wisdom ran aground on this rock. The truth 
of Samuel's prediction, at the time of the election 
of a ruler, was better proven by the wise king than 
by his predecessors. 


Unfortunately Solomon was a younger son, to 
whom the throne had been allotted contrary to the 
ordinary laws of succession, whilst Adonijah, whom a 
portion of the people had recognised as king, was 
considered the rightful heir. So long as the latter 
lived, Solomon's government could not be on a firm 
basis, and he could never feel himself secure. Adon- 
ijah, therefore, had to be removed ; the leader of the 
body guard, Benaiah, forcibly entered his house, and 
killed him. As an excuse for this act of violence, it 
was asserted that Adonijah had attempted to win the 
hand of Abishag, the young widow of David, and 
thus had revealed his traitorous intention of con- 
testing his brother's right to the throne. No sooner 
had he fallen than Joab, the former adherent of 
Adonijah, feared that a similar fate would overtake 
him. This exemplary general, who had contributed 
so considerably to the aggrandisement of the people 
of Israel and the power of the house of David, fled 
to the altar on Mount Zion, and clung to it, hoping 
to escape death. Benaiah, however, refused to 
respect his place of refuge, and shed his blood at 
the altar. In order to excuse this crime, it was given 
out that David himself, on his deathbed, had im- 
pressed on his successor the duty of revenging the 
death of Abner and Amasa. Joab, who had killed 
them in times of peace, was not to be allowed, in 
spite of his venerable age, to die in peace. 

It is uncertain whether Benaiah was Solomon's 
evil adviser, or merely his instrument. Joab's death 
was the cause of great joy amongst the enemies of 
Israel, and aroused in them the courage to plan a 
rebellion. Adonijah's priestly partisan, Abiathar, 
whom Solomon did not dare touch, was deprived of 
his office as high priest, and Zadok was made the sole 
head of the priesthood, and his descendants, invested 
with that dignity, maintained it for over a thousand 
years, whilst the offspring of Abiathar were neg- 
lected. The Benjamite Shimei, who had pursued 

CH. ix. THE COURT. 161 

David with execrations on his flight from Jerusalem, 
was also executed, and it was only through this three- 
fold deed of blood that Solomon's throne appears to 
have gained stability. 

Solomon then directed his attention to the forma- 
tion of a court of the greatest magnificence, such as 
was befitting the powerful king whose commands 
were obeyed from the boundaries of Egypt to the 
banks of the Euphrates. In those days many wives 
were considered a necessary adjunct to the king's 
dignity; David had about sixteen wives, but this 
was an insignificant number as compared with that 
of the kings of Egypt and Phoenicia, whom Solomon 
had taken for his pattern. It was only in compli- 
ance with this common but corrupt practice that Solo- 
mon formed an immense harem. His first wife was 
Naamah (the beautiful), an Ammonite princess; 
he also had other wives from the Moabite and 
Aramaean courts, and even from those of the Hittite 
and Caananite kings; but what most gratified his 
pride was that the Egyptian king Psusennes gave 
him his daughter in marriage. Solomon thought that 
in acting thus he had taken a wise step, and that his 
country and his dynasty would be benefited by the 
alliance. But the result proved the contrary. The 
daughter of Psusennes was naturally received with 
every mark of attention in the Israelitish capital ; 
she became the first queen in Solomon's harem, but 
it seemed to him a disgrace that he could not place a 
magnificent palace at the disposal of this queen. 
What was the cedar palace built by David on Mount 
Zion, when compared with the gigantic edifices and 
labyrinthine palaces of the kings of Egypt? Solo- 
mon, therefore, determined to build a palace worthy 
of her. 

Through the alliance with Egypt, innovations of 
great consequence were made in Israel, among 
them the introduction of horses and chariots. 

Solomon also entered into close and friendly con- 


nection with Hiram, king of Tyre, with whom David 
had already established a neighbourly intimacy. He 
appears to have married a daughter of Hiram, too, 
and this close bond between Solomon and Hiram 
seems to have led to important and extensive under- 

The establishment of a large harem demanded an 
immense body of servants. Solomon maintained a 
most brilliant court. The ambassadors of tributary 
and friendly powers had to be received with great 
pomp, for Solomon laid great stress on the display 
of splendour, and the maintenance of his court de- 
manded the expenditure of large sums of money. 
As he could not otherwise obtain means, the royal 
house not having extensive estates in its own right, 
the people had to defray his enormous expenses. 
The whole land was divided into twelve parts, and a 
Governor was placed over each division to see that 
the inhabitants contributed one month's provisions 
every year; the purpose of this division seems to 
have been that the old system of tribal organisation 
might cease. A superior, or Vizier, whose duty it 
was to see that the tribute of natural products was 
sent in regularly, was appointed over these twelve 

Solomon displayed heightened grandeur in his 
buildings. He was anxious in the first instance to 
raise a splendid temple to the God of Israel in the 
capital of his country. It could not be a matter of 
indifference to him that in the neighbouring lands 
of Egypt and Phoenicia, with the rulers of which he 
was intimately acquainted, gigantic temples were 
raised for the various gods, whilst in his country the 
sanctuary was merely placed in a tent. Solomon, 
therefore, immediately after his accession to the 
throne, made preparations for commencing the erec- 
tion of a sacred edifice ; the site was already chosen. 
It was to be on Mount Moriah, to the north-east of 
the city, where David had raised an altar after the 


pestilence had ceased. Silver and gold had been 
collected for the purpose, but building materials, 
stones and cedar wood still had to be procured. 
Freestones and blocks had to be hewn from the 
rocks in the quarries north of Jerusalem, where they 
were so dovetailed as to be easily joined after reach- 
ing the spot. But whence procure workmen for 
this troublesome business of hewing, preparing and 
conveying the stones? Solomon had learnt from 
Pharaoh Psusennes, his father-in-law, the means of 
obtaining workmen without incurring heavy expense. 
He employed the remnant of the Canaanite popula- 
tion still living in the country. Although Saul had 
begun to decrease their numbers, he could not pro- 
ceed against them with his full strength, on account 
of his continual strife with David. David had left 
them undisturbed, so that they lived quietly, mixed 
peaceably with the Israelites, and served the king 
faithfully in his wars against the Philistines and 
other nations. Solomon, on the contrary, declared 
the remnant of the Ammonites, Hittites, Perizzites 
and Hivites, as well as the Jebusites (whom David 
had permitted to live in the outskirts of Jerusalem), 
to be bondmen, and compelled them to perform the 
hardest labour. They numbered 150,000 youths and 
able-bodied men, and comprised the working class. 
More than 3,000 Israelitish superintendents kept the 
enslaved natives to their work. A superior officer, 
Adoniram, watched over the superintendents and 
the workmen. Eighty thousand of these unhappy 
beings worked in the stone quarries day and night 
by the light of lamps. They were under the direction 
of a man from Biblos (Giblim), who understood the 
art of hewing heavy blocks from the rocks, and of 
giving the edges the necessary shape for dovetailing. 
Twenty thousand slaves removed the heavy blocks 
from the mouth of the quarry, and carried them to 
the building site. 

Hiram, the King of Tyre, Solomon's friend, sup- 


plied cedar and cypress wood. The trees were 
felled on Lebanon, for which purpose Hiram placed 
skilled workmen at Solomon's disposal. The trunks 
were forwarded from Lebanon to Tyre or to the 
other harbours, whence they were conveyed in rafts 
to the port of Jaffa, and from there with much toil 
over hills and dales to Jerusalem, a distance of at 
least a ten hours' journey. As the Canaanite slaves 
were not sufficiently numerous to remove the 
cedar and cypress trees, and to convey them to 
their destination, Solomon employed Israelites to 
assist in the work, thirty thousand being impressed 
for the duty. Each ten thousand were sent for a 
month to work in the forests, to fell the trees, and 
convey them to their destination. After a month 
had passed, the workmen were relieved by another 
body of ten thousand. These thirty thousand Israel- 
ites were not enslaved they remained free, and 
even received wages but they were not allowed to 
withdraw voluntarily from the work. 

It was not to be expected that Hiram would cut 
down his cedar and cypress forests, or that he would 
place carpenters and builders at Solomon's disposal 
without receiving some return. So long as the 
buildings were in course of erection, Solomon sent 
him annually a certain amount of corn, wine and oil, 
with the raising of which tribute the people were 
probably taxed. But Hiram was also obliged to 
advance gold for the adornment of the interior of 
the temple. Solomon's fleet had not yet imported 
the precious metal. In return for the supply of gold, 
Solomon yielded up to Hiram twenty towns of the bor- 
derland, in the tribe of Asher, between Phoenicia and 
the territory of Israel. Though these were not im- 
portant, and did not please Hiram, still it was a 
transference of Israelitish territory to the Phoenicians. 
Hiram permitted various races to colonise the towns, 
from whom the territory received the name " Gelil 
Haggoyim" (the district of nations), later Galilee. 


As soon as the stones and blocks of wood had been 
removed to the building site of the temple, the erec- 
tion of which was to occupy three years, the work 
was commenced. 

The temple was built of freestone, and the walls 
were covered with cedar planks on the inside. On 
these were traced designs of palms, open flower 
cups, and cherubim (winged heads with human 
faces), and these designs were inlaid with gold. The 
temple was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and 
thirty cubits high. It was divided into the Holy of 
Holies (Debir, the inner chamber, a square of twenty 
cubits), and the Holy Place (Hechal, which was forty 
cubits long). The Holy of Holies seems to have 
been situated on higher ground than the sanctuary. 
At the sides were two cherubim of gilded olive wood, 
each ten cubits high, the wings f which were five 
cubits wide. At the entrance of the sanctuary was 
an open vestibule (Ulam), which was of the same 
width as the sanctuary, and ten cubits in length, and 
in front of this hall there were artistically wrought 
columns of bronze. The artist, Hiram, was a half- 
Jew, his father being a Syrian and his mother a 
Naphtalite. The Holy of Holies was to face the 
west, contrary to the custom of the Gentiles, whose 
temples faced the rising sun; the gates were of 
olive wood, adorned with gilded cherubim as well as 
with palms and flower-cups. The folding doors of 
the sanctuary, made of cypress wood, were orna- 
mented in a like manner, and the floor was of 
cypress wood inlaid with gold. In the Holy of Holies 
nothing was visible but the cherubim, intended to en- 
shrine the ark of the covenant, in which the tablets 
of the law were kept. In the sanctuary there was 
an altar of cedar wood gilded on all sides, with five 
gilded candlesticks at each side, and a large gilded 
table for twelve loaves. The temple was surrounded 
by an extensive courtyard. Inside the vestibule 
stood a large iron altar, and a spacious water reser- 


voir, called the " iron sea," adorned with a border of 
open flower-cups and lily-buds, and on the lower part 
with colocynths. This reservoir was supported by 
twelve iron bulls, each three of which turned in a 
different direction. The water was intended for 
washing the hands and feet of the officiating priests 
whenever they entered the sanctuary, the flow of water 
probably being regulated by a faucet. Ten small basins 
on wheels, artistically engraved, could be pushed to 
any spot where they might be wanted. Vessels for 
the sacrificial rites were cast in large quantities by 
the order of the king. The whole building inside 
and outside was stamped with the impress of wealth 
and grandeur. At the completion of the building, 
it was consecrated (1007) with solemn rites. The 
erection of the temple had occupied seven years, and 
the month selected for the consecration was that in 
which the harvest and the vintage were completed. 
The chiefs of all the tribes and the elders of families 
were invited, and people streamed from every quar- 
ter to gaze in astonishment at the splendours of the 
temple, and to look upon the unaccustomed spectacle. 
The solemnities commenced with the transfer of 
the ark from Mount Zion, the town of David, to 
Mount Moriah. The bars attached to the ark were 
those which had been used during the wanderings 
in the desert. They were so placed that all present 
could see that holy relic of past ages, the two stone 
tables inscribed with the ten commandments. Dur- 
ing the transfer of the ark of the covenant, and dur- 
ing the consecration, many thousands of sacrifices 
were offered, and also psalms were sung. No sooner 
had the ark of the covenant been brought into the 
Holy of Holies than a thick cloud filled the body of 
the temple, so that the Aaronites were interrupted 
in their service. This was considered a token of 
God's mercy, and a sign that the consecration had 
been performed in accordance with His will. The 
vast assembly was thus swayed by the feelings of joy, 
piety and devotion. The king gave expression to 


the general sentiments in a few grave words : " God 
has promised to dwell in a cloud. I have built a 
dwelling for thee, O God an abode for thee to 
dwell in for ever." Mount Moriah thus appeared 
like Mount Sinai, where the voice of God had 
spoken from out of a dense cloud. The temple 
became an object of veneration to the people, who 
believed that from between the two cherubim, God 
would make known to them the ways in which they 
were to walk. A prophet who was present (perhaps 
Ahijah of Shiloh) announced to King Solomon in 
the name of God, If thou wilt walk in my law, and 
obey my commands, and fulfil my behests, then I 
will fulfil unto thee the promise I made unto David, 
thy father ' I shall dwell in the midst of the sons of 
Israel, and I will not desert my people." 

The nation celebrated the autumn festivals, which 
occurred simultaneously with the consecration, most 
joyfully. Deep and lasting was the impression made 
by this temple, gleaming with gold and bronze, 
sumptuous and imposing in its structure, containing 
no visible image of the Deity, yet filled with His 
invisible presence. The house of God offered some- 
thing tangible to those whose imaginations could not 
conceive of the spiritual, divested of material form. 
The temple was the pride and strength of Israel, and 
the delight of its eyes. At the time of the consecra- 
tion there was inaugurated a religious service, such 
as had been impossible within the narrow limits 
of the sanctuary in Shiloh or, during the transition 
period, in the tent at Zion. A priesthood had 
certainly existed even in former times, and belonged 
exclusively to the descendants of Aaron. It was, how- 
ever, only under Solomon that a high priest was put at 
the head of the others, and that gradations in rank 
were introduced. Azariah, the son of Zadok, was 
advanced to the office of high priest after the death 
of his father, and was assisted by the inferior priests. 
A new order of service was arranged for the Levites, 


who were subordinate to the priests. A part of them 
assisted at the sacrificial services. Another part 
kept guard at four sides of the temple, and were 
charged with the care of the sacred vessels, and with 
all preparations for the temple service. Lastly, cer- 
tain families took part in the singing and the instru- 
mental music that accompanied the services. It was 
the temple and the new order of worship introduced 
there that actually raised Jerusalem to the position of 
the capital of the country. Pilgrims from all the 
tribes attended the autumnal festivals there, in order 
to witness the solemn divine services, such as could 
be held at no tribal altar. Jerusalem gradually be- 
coming an important commercial town, in which for- 
eign goods and curiosities were displayed, attracted 
ever greater numbers of visitors from all the tribes. 
Thus the youngest of the cities in the land of Israel 
surpassed and outshone all the older towns. Solo- 
mon gave orders that the capital be fortified on all 
sides, and that the temple also be included within 
the line of fortifications. 

The erection of the royal palace occupied a period 
of more than thirteen years. It consisted of a series 
of buildings which extended over a great area on the 
northern hill, in the quarter called Millo. Next to 
the entrance was the House of the Forest of Lebanon, 
which took its name from the numerous pillars of 
cedar, which were ranged in rows of fifteen each. 
This house served as the Armoury for the king's 
protection. Here thirteen hundred guards kept 
watch; they were provided with spears and shields 
of gold, and acted as the king's attendants when 
he proceeded to the temple. Great attention was 
given by Solomon to the fitting up of the Judg- 
ment or Throne Chamber. The walls from the 
floor to the ceiling were covered with cedar wood, 
and adorned with gold fretwork. In this hall 
Solomon's throne was placed. It was considered 
a marvel of workmanship. It was ornamented with 


ivory, and inlaid with gold. Six steps led up to it, 
and on each step were two artistically wrought lions, 
the symbols of power and of royal dignity. The 
seat was supported on each side by arms, and on it 
also were two lions. In the hall of public justice 
Solomon heard contesting parties, and pronounced 
judgment: he considered his office of judge one of 
the holiest and most important connected with 
his kingly dignity. Here he also received the 
ambassadors of the various countries, who attended 
his court to offer their homage, or to negotiate new 
treaties. A special palace was built for the king, 
his servants and his wives, a separate house being 
reserved for the Egyptian princess. It appears that 
her removal from David's house to her own residence 
was effected with great pomp. Probably Solomon had 
also an aqueduct built so as to supply the town of Jeru- 
salem and the temple with water from the rich 
spring of Etam, which was at a two hours' journey 
from Jerusalem. 

The practice of building splendid edifices of cedar 
was not confined to Solomon ; the great nobles and 
princes who lived in Jerusalem, the high officers, and 
his favourites, all followed his example. With the 
wealth that streamed into the land through the 
opening of three important channels, the love of 
show, which spread from the king to the higher 
classes, could be freely gratified. Phoenician mer- 
chants of high standing, who carried on a large 
wholesale trade, money-changers, men of wealth who 
lent money on interest, now settled in Jerusalem. 
They composed a special corporation or guild, and 
were under the protection of the treaty between 
Solomon and Hiram. They were permitted to live 
according to their own laws, and were even allowed 
to practise their religious or, rather, idolatrous rites. 
The three great sources of wealth were the Power/id 
Position of the State, the Alliance with Egypt^ and 
Indian Trade. Those princes who had entered 


into treaties with David confirmed them with his suc- 
cessor, and other potentates sought his friendship. 
On swearing allegiance, all these princes and nations 
sent the customary tribute and rich gifts, such as 
gold and silver vessels, valuable garments, spices, 
horses and mules. The alliance with Egypt was also 
the source of considerable additions to the national 
wealth, as that kingdom furnished horses to the 
mountainous districts, and war chariots, which were 
in great demand in foreign parts. The princes of 
Aram and of the territories on the Euphrates who 
had formerly procured their horses and chariots 
from Egypt, were to buy these war materials from 
Solomon's merchant guild. The latter established 
a station for his own riders and horses on the 
plain not far from the sea. He kept twelve 
thousand horses and fourteen hundred war chariots 
(each drawn by two horses), and for these he 
erected spacious buildings, containing four thousand 
stalls. Solomon's greatest gains, however, were 
acquired in trade with India. To the Phoenicians the 
journey to this distant country was attended with 
insuperable difficulties, so long as the country near 
the Red Sea was rendered unsafe by the uncivilised 
and predatory bands that dwelt there. By his 
alliance with Hiram, Solomon had opened up a safer 
and nearer route to India. The strip of land ex- 
tending from the southern border of Judah to the 
eastern coast of the Red Sea, the Points Elath and 
Eziongeber, had been rendered accessible. The 
caravans with their loaded camels could proceed in 
safety from Jerusalem and from the coast to the 
northern point of the Red Sea. At Hiram's sugges- 
tion, Solomon had a fleet of strong and large ships 
(ships of Tarshish) built, and equipped on the coast 
at Eziongeber. Hiram sent his most skilful sailors, 
who knew the route thoroughly, to man the vessels. 
Israelites of the tribes of Asher and Zebulun, who 
lived on the coast and were acquainted with the sea, 
were also employed. 


When the Israelitish fleet was complete, it sailed out 
of the harbour of Eziongeber to the Red Sea, which 
separates Palestine from Egypt, Nubia, and Abys- 
sinia, and proceeded along the coast to the Gulf 
which washes the shores of Southern Arabia, as far 
as the mouth of the Indus, in the land of Ophir (now 
called Scinde). After a period of two years, Sol- 
omon's fleet returned richly laden with the proceeds 
of this first expedition. Vast droves of camels car- 
ried the treasures to Jerusalem, to the great aston- 
ishment of the whole population. More than four 
hundred talents (kikhar) of gold, silver in great 
quantities, ivory, ebony, apes, and exquisitely col- 
oured peacocks, sandal-wood, and sweet-smelling 
plants were thus transported. Solomon caused a 
throne to be made of the ivory, and the sandal-wood 
was used for ornamenting the harps and lutes of the 
musicians who played in the temple. The palings of 
the bridge which led from the palace to the temple 
were also made of this rare and costly wood. Sol- 
omon sent his fleet several times to Ophir or India, 
and each time new riches and curiosities were brought 
into the country. The port Elath became a place of 
great importance. Judseans settled there, and the land 
of Israel thus extended from the extreme end of the 
Red Sea to the Euphrates. In order to convey horses 
and chariots from Aramaea to the Euphrates, as also 
the various importations from Phoenicia, roads had 
to be made, and measures taken to ensure the safety 
of the caravans. In a mountainous country, it is not 
easy for beasts of burden, and certainly not for horses 
and chariots, to traverse great distances, obstructed as 
the way is by steep cliffs, abrupt precipices, and 
masses of rolling stones. Solomon, however, had 
roads made which led from Jerusalem to the north ; 
these were the king's high-roads. 

He probably employed the services of the Canaanite 
natives, who were obliged as bondmen to take part 
in this work. Heights were levelled, depths filled 


up, and stones removed. The roads were passable 
by carriages, which could proceed without hindrance 
from the south to the north, and the caravans passing 
from the Jordan to the sea could travel without diffi- 
culty. A chain of fortresses protected the roadways, 
and served as resting places. Besides these stations 
for riders and carriages, Solomon also founded towns 
for storing goods; these were also used to house 
grain for future years of scarcity. 

Thus Solomon settled the affairs of Israel, and pro- 
vided for its future security. He had no sharpsighted 
counsellor, such as David had had in Ahithophel, 
to assist him in establishing order; his own wisdom 
was his sole counsellor. But he had to choose 
responsible officers, who would give effect to his 
instructions, and carry out the plans which he de- 
vised. The great extent of his state and his court 
demanded the establishment of new offices. For the 
better reception of strangers he had placed over his 
vast household a major-domo (al-hab-Baith). Ahishar 
was the name of this officer. The twelve officials 
who provided for the wants of the household were 
supervised by a chief whose name was Azariah-ben- 
Nathan. A high official, Adoniram, the son of Abda, 
was also placed (al-ham-Mas) over the many thou- 
sand bondmen who worked on the roads and in the 
fortresses. Thus three high posts were newly 
created by Solomon. 

Its great extent and the riches which Solomon 
had amassed enabled the kingdom of Israel to hold 
its place amongst the greatest nations in the ancient 
world. Princes and nations who lived in strife with 
each other sought the aid of the ruler of this mighty 
dominion, and called upon him to act as arbitrator, 
for his wisdom was famed far and wide. The great- 
est blessing in Solomon's reign was the peace and 
undisturbed quiet which obtained throughout the 
land. From Dan unto Beersheba the Israelites 
could peacefully enjoy their home, " everyone under 
his own vine and under his own fig-tree." 

CH. ix. SOLOMON'S FAM. 173 

The commercial treaties, the prosperity of the 
country, the security to life arising from the long 
peace maintained in Solomon's reign, all contributed 
to attract the surrounding tribes of Moabites, Am- 
monites, Idumaeans, and even Egyptians to the 
country. It is probable, too, that the high religious 
culture of the Israelites, so superior to idolatry, and 
its splendid manifestation in the temple at Jerusalem 
influenced enlightened foreigners to seek shelter 
under the " wings of the God of Israel." The country, 
the people, and the God of Israel acquired wide- 
spread renown in Solomon's time. The Israelitish 
mariners, who visited so many harbours, coast-lands, 
and marts, and the Israelitish merchants who entered 
into connections with foreign parts carried reports of 
their fatherland to the remotest climes and nations. 
The praise of the wise, mighty, and brilliant king 
Solomon resounded far and wide in his times. In 
the eyes of the world he elevated the name of the 
God whom he honoured, and to whose glory he had 
erected a magnificent temple. The Israelitish sailors 
and merchants unconsciously became the first mes- 
sengers and pioneers of the religion of Israel 
among the idolatrous nations. 

One day Jerusalem was surprised by an extraor- 
dinary embassy. A wise queen, from the spice- 
bearing land of Sabia (Sheba), which is situated on 
the Arabian coast of the Red Sea, came to visit 
Jerusalem. As she had heard so much of the great- 
ness of Solomon, and in praise of the God of Israel, 
she wished to see, with her own eyes, how much 
truth or falsehood lay in the reports which had come 
to her ears. She was received with marked atten- 
tion by Solomon, and had many interviews with him. 
The queen (whom tradition calls Belkis) greatly 
admired his wisdom, and was much impressed by 
the temple which he had erected to God, and by 
the brilliancy of his court. It is said that she pro- 
pounded enigmatic riddles to him in order to test his 


powers, and these he answered in a manner which 
excited her astonishment. 

Solomon's brilliant rule, however, became the 
source of a serious division between the tribes, 
which he had unavailingly striven to consolidate 
into one indissoluble whole. Notwithstanding that 
the temple formed a bond of union for the whole 
people, and that Solomon tried to abolish the 
tribal isolation which prevailed, he succeeded only in 
the case of Benjamin, which became more closely 
united with Judah. This was owing to the fact that 
the temple was built on Benjamite territory, and 
consequently several Benjamite families settled in 
the capital. Probably Solomon also preferred the 
tribe of Benjamin and his own ancestral tribe to the 
other tribes. The mutual dislike of the houses of 
Israel and Judah, or the northern and southern tribes, 
had not ceased. Among the northern tribes a deep 
sense of discontent prevailed against Solomon, de- 
spite the prosperity to which he had raised them ; 
they resented the pressure put upon them to forward 
regular supplies for the court, and to perform com- 
pulsory service in the erection of public buildings. 
Their discontent was not expressed aloud, but it 
needed only an occasion for it to vent itself. Wise 
as Solomon was, he had not sufficient foresight 
to perceive that his faults were sure to weaken the 
future security of the state. Amongst the officials 
whom Solomon employed to supervise the buildings 
was an Ephraimite, who was clever, courageous and 
ambitious. This was Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, 
from the town of Zereda or Zorathan, on the other 
side of the Jordan. He was the son of a widow; 
thus, free from paternal restraint, he could follow out 
his own impulses uncontrolled. Jeroboam had super- 
vised the erection of the walls of Jerusalem, and had 
displayed great skill and firmness in managing the 
bondmen. Solomon was, in fact, so well pleased 
with him that he bestowed on him a high position in 


the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh. Here 
Jeroboam had the opportunity of becoming ac- 
quainted with the discontent of the people, which 
was probably strongest amongst the ever-discon- 
tented Ephraimites. The popular feeling accorded 
well with his ambitious plans, and he decided to 
utilise it when a favourable opportunity should 

Solomon was guilty of the folly of permitting sac- 
rificial altars to be built for various idols. It may 
have been his foreign wives who induced him to 
make this concession, or perhaps it was due to the 
foreigners, the Phoenicians and other races, who had 
taken up their residence in Jerusalem, and had 
received permission to worship their gods in the land 
of Israel according to their custom. However this 
may have been, altars were raised on the high 
northern point of the Mount of Olives, in honour of 
Astarte of the Zidonians, Milcom of the Ammonites, 
Chemosh of the Moabites, and other idols. The 
religious convictions of the nation were not so deeply 
rooted that the people could witness all kinds of 
idolatrous practices without falling into the errors of 
idol-worship themselves. A prophet, Ahijah of 
Shiloh, had the courage to reprimand the king, and 
to warn him of the danger which his conduct ren- 
dered imminent. Solomon, however, seems to 'have 
given little heed to his representations, and the 
prophet, indignant at the king's obtuseness, deter- 
mined to use Jeroboam (whose ambitious schemes 
he had probably divined) as the instrument of Solo- 
mon's destruction. When Jeroboam left Jerusalem, 
the prophet approached him, seized his garment, 
tore it into twelve pieces, and handing him ten of 
them, he said, " Take these ten pieces; they portray 
the ten tribes which will separate themselves from 
the house of David, and recognise thee as their 
king." Jeroboam wanted no further encouragement 
to mature his plans, since a prophet had commended 


them. He hurried to the territories of Ephraim, and 
called on the Ephraimites to separate themselves 
from the house of David. Meanwhile Solomon had 
received tidings of the event, and before the revolu- 
tion could spread, he sent his guards to kill the rebel. 
Jeroboam then fled to Egypt, where a new dynasty 
now occupied the throne. Shishak (Sheshenk, Se- 
sonchosis, 980-959) was the first king of the new 
line. Under his rule was severed the bond which 
had united Israel and Egypt since Solomon's mar- 
riage \vith the Egyptian princess. Shishak in fact 
was inimical to the Israelitish nation, which had be- 
come more powerful than was agreeable to him. 
He therefore received Jeroboam with kindness, in- 
tending to use him against Solomon. Shishak also 
gave a friendly reception and protection to an Idu- 
msean prince, who had special reasons for avenging 
himself on the Israelitish nation. Hadad (or Adad) 
was a relation of the Idurnsean king whom David 
had conquered. He had, when a boy, escaped the 
massacre ordered by Joab in consequence of a 
revolution in Idumsea. When Shishak ascended the 
throne, the Idumaean prince hurried to Egypt, and 
was graciously received. Shishak gave him the 
queen's sister in marriage, and his first-born son (Gen- 
ubath) grew up among the Egyptian princes. Hadad 
also acquired possessions in Egypt, and was hon- 
oured in every way; notwithstanding this, he yearned 
to return to Edom, and to regain the territories 
which had been snatched away from him. He car- 
ried this desire into effect with the aid of Shishak, 
who was fully aware that the warlike spirit which 
had obtained under David and Joab, had diminished 
under Solomon's peaceful rule, and that petty war- 
fare in the mountainous districts would be connected 
with little danger, while it might be productive of 
great benefit to himself. Hadad and the troops 
which he had mustered in Idumaea did great damage 
to Solomon's caravans, which carried goods between 


the bay of Elath and the Israelitish boundaries; and 
Solomon's warriors were powerless to prevent these 

Unnoticed by Solomon, another cloud, which 
threatened Israel with destruction, was gathering 
in the north. Rezon (of Zobah), one of the servants 
of King Hadadezer, whom David had overthrown, 
had taken to flight after the defeat of his sovereign ; 
he assembled a predatory troop, and made raids 
in the districts lying between the Euphrates and 
the northern ranges of the Lebanon. Rezon's troops 
gradually increased in numbers, and with their 
numbers grew his courage and power. At last he 
ventured to proceed against the ancient city of Da- 
mascus. He succeeded in capturing it and in having 
himself chosen king. Advancing from the north, 
Rezon also committed hostilities against the Israelites 
and their allies, without any opposition on the part of 
Solomon, who either had a dislike of war, or had no 
troops available to ward off the attacks from the north 
and the south. Thus arose, from small beginnings, 
powers inimical to Israel, which might easily have 
been nipped in the bud. Besides this, an internal 
breach was in store for Israel. 

Solomon, however, did not live to see the develop- 
ment of the impending evils and the decay of his 
kingdom. He died in peace at the age of about 
sixty years (in 977). His body was buried, no doubt 
with great pomp, in the rocky mausoleum of the 
kings which David had built on the south of Mount 
Zion. It was said later on that Solomon, as well as 
his father, had heaped up untold treasures and wealth 
in these vaults and cells, which were discovered 
many centuries after by the later Jewish kings. 

Although Solomon had numerous wives, it appears 
that he left but few children, a son named Rehoboam 
and two daughters, Taphath and Basmath, whom 
their father married to two of his officers. Posterity, 
which has greatly exaggerated Solomon's wisdom 


and ability, has also attributed to him power over 
mystic spirits and demons, who, obeying his will, 
could be invoked or dismissed as he chose. Even a 
ring on which his name was engraven was supposed 
to exercise a mighty spell over the demons, and keep 
them in subjection. 

The power to which Solomon had elevated Israel 
resembled that of a magic world built up by spirits- 
The spell was broken at his death. 



Accession of Rehoboam Jeroboam's return The King at Shechem 
The Secession of the Ten Tribes Election of Jeroboam New 
Alliances Rezon and Shishak Fortification of Shechem 
Jeroboam's idolatry Ahijah's rebuke Religion in Judah 
Abijam Asa Nadab Baasha Wars between Asa and Baasha 
Defeat of Zerah Benhadad Elah Zimri Omri Civil war 
Samaria built Omri's policy Alliances with Ethbaal and Tyre 

Ahab : his character Jezebel The Priests of Baal Elijah 

Naboth's vineyard Elijah at Carmel War with Benhadad 
Death of Ahab and Jehoshaphat Ahaziah's Accession Jehoram 
Elijah and Elisha Jehu Death of Jezebel. 

977 887 B. c. E. 

FOR the first time since the monarchical government 
had been established in Israel, the next heir to the 
throne could succeed without disturbance or contest. 
Rehoboam, more fortunate than his father and 
grandfather, found himself, when he ascended the 
throne, ruler over a mighty and important country. 
Many nations bowed in allegiance to him, and he 
could indulge in golden dreams of power and happi- 
ness. His undisputed accession was perhaps owing 
to the fact that he had no brother, or that Solomon's 
strict laws regarding private property had also ex- 
tended to the rights o f succession. Whatever may 
have been the reason, Rehoboam ascended the throne 
of his father without opposition. In fact, disputes be- 
tween brothers concerning- the succession, such as had 
occurred at the death of David, did not occur again in 
Jerusalem. Nor would Rehoboam have been equal to 
such contests. He by no means resembled his father ; 
indeed, his abilities were not even mediocre. Like 
all princes born in the purple, who are not gifted 
with striking personal qualities, he was thoughtless, 


haughty, and at the same time so wanting in self- 
reliance that he could not decide for himself. He 
had neither martial abilities nor an appreciation of 
greatness of any kind. The throne was to secure 
for him power, peace, and the enjoyment of life's 
pleasures. If this was his dream, it was of but short 
duration. He was unexpectedly confronted with an 
enemy who robbed him of power and peace, and who 
caused a breach in the state of Israel which could 
never again be healed. 

Jeroboam, the Ephraimite who had raised the flag 
of rebellion during the last years of Solomon's reign, 
and who, on the failure of his attempt, had fled to 
Egypt, returned to his native land immediately on 
receipt of the news of Solomon's death, with the in- 
tention of resuming his ambitious schemes, which 
had been approved by a prophet. Probably his pro- 
tector, Shishak, the king of Egypt, assisted him, and 
permitted him to proceed by sea to the Israelitish 
port. No sooner had this bold Ephraimite arrived in 
Shechem, the second city of importance in the king- 
dom, than the Shechemites, ever ready for sedition, 
began a revolt. Jeroboam was invited to join the 
meeting of the people, or rather he instigated the 
holding of such an assembly in order to consider the 
steps necessary to attain the desired end without 

The elders of other tribes were likewise invited to 
take part in the projects of the Shechemites, and thus 
their rebellious undertaking assumed the character of 
a national demonstration. It was first of all decided 
that the elders of the tribes were not, as heretofore, 
to repair to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the 
new king, but that he was to be invited to receive 
their allegiance at Shechem. This was the first step 
in the rebellion. Rehoboam determined to accept 
their invitation, much against his will probably, in 
the expectation that his presence would put a stop 
to any intended insurrection. It was a disastrous 


hour, fraught with far-reaching results for the history 
of Israel. 

Rehoboam was accompanied to Shechem by his 
council, consisting of the elder members who had 


served his father, and of younger members whom he 
himself had selected. In order to provide for all 
cases, he took with him Adoniram, the overseer ot 
the slaves, whose angry glance and whose rod kept 
the unwilling labourers in submission. When Re- 
hoboam arrived in Shechem, the representatives of 
the tribes came before him in order to explain their 
grievances. Jeroboam, who had been chosen as 
their mouthpiece, placed the troubles of the nation 
before the king in strong language: "Thy father put 
a heavy yoke on the people, and made them submit 
to heavy burdens. If thou wilt lighten this heavy 
yoke, we will serve thee." Struck by this bold lan- 
guage, Rehoboam concealed his anger as best he 
could, and told them to return for his reply in three 
days. He knew not what answer to give the repre- 
sentatives of the tribes. He therefore consulted his 
council. The older members were unanimously in 
favor of mild treatment, the younger men advocated 
severity, and the unwise king followed the advice of the 
latter. When, on the third dayjeroboamand the elders 
came to him for his answer, he replied in words which 
he thought would annihilate them: "My little finder is 

^ *~* 

stronger than my father's loins. If he scourged you 
with rods, I will scourge you with scorpions." Jero- 
boam had expected and reckoned on no other reply. 
Turning to the elders he said, "What share have we 
in David, and what inheritance in the son of Jesse? 
Return to your tents, O Israel, and thou, David, see 
to thine own house!" Jeroboam then unfurled the 
standard of rebellion, and assembled the Shechemites, 
who willingly mustered around him in order to dis- 
play their enmity towards Rehoboam. All the 
jealousy and hatred that the Ephraimites had cher- 
ished during the reigns of David and Solomon, on 


account of the oppression and supposed humiliation 
to which they had been forced to submit, now burst 
forth. They seized the opportunity to free them- 
selves from the yoke of David, and to place them- 
selves, as they had done in the days of the Judges, 
at the head of the tribes. Sword in hand, the Shech- 
emites, headed by Jeroboam, attacked the house in 
which Rehoboam dwelt. He sent Adoniram, the 
overseer of the slaves, to chastise the ringleaders 
like rebellious slaves. A shower of stones over- 
powered him, and he sank lifeless to the ground. 
Rehoboam, whose life was in danger, fled from 
Shechem in his chariot, and reached Jerusalem. A 
breach had been made which no one could heal. 

Indignant and dispirited as Rehoboam was at the 
turn affairs had taken in Shechem, he felt himself 
obliged to ascertain, before taking any steps, how 
far he could count on the fidelity of the nation. 
What was he to do, if the tribes nearest to the capital, 
induced by the example of the Shechemites, also 
renounced their allegiance to him ? Where would the 
secession end? From this care, however, he was 
soon freed. The tribe of Judah, which was intimately 
connected with the house of David, and considered 
that house its most precious ornament, remained 
faithful to Rehoboam. The tribe of Simeon was 
merely a subsidiary of that of Judah, and could not 
be considered independent. The tribe of Benjamin 
also remained faithful to Rehoboam. It was closely 
connected with that of Judah, and their fortunes 
could not again be parted. There were more Ben- 
jamites than Judseans living in Jerusalem. These 
tribes, then, sided with Rehoboam. No sooner was 
he aware that two or three tribes would remain true 
to him, than he naturally entertained the idea of 
compelling the Shechemites and Ephraimites to return 
to their allegiance by means of the sword, and he 
would no doubt have succeeded, had not Jeroboam 
taken measures to turn the secession to the greatest 


advantage. He impressed on the Ephraimites that 
only a king could successfully resist Rehoboam's 
attacks, and that by no other means could they escape 
the severe punishment which awaited them as in- 
surgents. They then determined to set up an oppo- 
sition king. Who would be better suited for this 
post than Jeroboam ? He alone possessed the need- 
ful courage and skill, and he was an Ephraimite. 
The elders of Ephraim therefore assembled, and with 
the co-operation of the remaining tribes, chose him 
as king. The latter paid homage to Jeroboam, pos- 
sibly because they also had grievances against the 
house of David, and could expect no redress from 
Rehoboam. Thus the obscure man of Zereda be- 
came king over ten tribes (977-955), counting Ma- 
nasseh of Machir as one, and Manasseh of Gilead 
as another tribe. 

The tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Simeon alone 
remained attached to the house of David. The two 
last named, however, had no separate existence, 
they were merged into the tribe of Judah. The 
house of Israel, which had been joined with the house 
of Judah for barely a century, was thus again divided 
from it. To avoid continual warfare as well as the 
necessity of being constantly on the defensive, each 
of the two kings sought to strengthen himself by 
alliances, and thus frustrate all hostile plans. Reho- 
boam made a treaty with the newly elected king of 
Damascus, the state founded by Rezon, the bandit, 
in Solomon's time, having attained great power. 
Rezon, or his successor Tabrimon, had united various 
Aramaean districts to Damascus, and ruled over 
extensive territory. The treaty between Rehoboam 
and the king of Damascus prevented Jeroboam from 
attacking the kingdom of Judah, and visiting it with 
the horrors of a long war. Jeroboam, on the other 
hand, formed an alliance with another power, in order 
to exasperate and alarm the king of Judah. 

A union of the two kingdoms was distasteful to 


both. The difference in their history prevented their 
coalescing. The house of Israel, especially the tribe 
of Ephraim, willingly relinquished the advantages 
which might accrue from a union with the house of 
David, in order that it might not be forced to assume 
an inferior position. The more worthy in both king- 
doms were probably filled with grief at the breach 
which had occurred, but they were unable to avert it. 
The civil war which appeared imminent was pre- 
vented by the prophet Shemaiah, who, in the name 
of God, called on the Judseans and Benjamites to 
desist from fratricide. Slight feuds, however, broke 
out between the contiguous kingdoms, as was un- 
avoidable between such near neighbours, but they 
led to no serious result. 

Jeroboam was effectually aided in his ambitious 
plans by Shishak (Sheshenk), who, it is said, married 
his wife's elder sister Ano to the fugitive Israelite, 


just as he had given another sister in marriage to 
the Idumsean prince who had taken refuge with him. 
Shishak probably had furnished Jeroboam with the 
supplies of money that enabled him to return to his 
fatherland, and now the new king seems to have 
formed an alliance with him against Judah. Thus 
Rehoboam was prevented from undertaking any 
noteworthy steps against Israel. In order to secure 
himself from Egyptian and Israelitish attacks, Reho- 
boam erected a chain of fortresses in a circuit of 
several miles round about the capital. But they failed 
him in the hour of need. Shishak, with an overwhelm- 
ing force, undertook a war against Rehoboam in the 
fifth year of the Jewish king's reign (972). Overcome 
by excess of numbers, the strongholds were taken one 
after another by the Egyptian armies, and Shishak 
pressed forward as far as Jerusalem. It appears that 
the capital yielded without a struggle, and the 
Egyptian king contented himself with seizing the 
treasures which Solomon had deposited in the palace 
and the Temple. He appropriated all the money 


then in Jerusalem, as well as the golden shields 
and spears which the king's guards used in royal 
processions to the Temple. He, however, left the 
kingdom of Judah intact, did not even touch the 
walls of Jerusalem, and left Rehoboam on his throne. 
On his return, Shishak commemorated his deeds of 
prowess and his victories over Judah and other dis- 
tricts by records and monuments. The alliance 
between Solomon and the king of Egypt was thus 
of but short duration. His son learned the futility 
of such a treaty, and experienced how little trust can 
be placed in plans and political measures, though 
apparently the outcome of the deepest calculation 
and forethought. Solomon, in spite of his wisdom, 
had acted thoughtlessly in regard to the union with 
the daughter of Pharaoh. He had built her a special 
palace, and within a few years after his decease, an 
Egyptian .:ing ransacked this very palace and other 
monumental buildings of Solomon, and plundered 
them of all their treasures. The grandeur and power 
of Solomon's kingdom were at an end. 

Jeroboam fortified Shechem and built himself a 
palace, which served also as a citadel (Armon) for 
purposes of defence. On the opposite side of the 
Jordan, he also fortified various towns, among them 
Penuel (or Peniel), to serve as a rampart against 
attacks from the south, where the Moabites and the 
Ammonites, in consequence of what had taken place, 
had separated themselves from the Israelites, in the 
same way as the Idumaeans had shaken off the yoke 
of the Judaeans. Internal embarrassments forced 
Jeroboam to introduce innovations. Guided either 
by habit or conviction, the families of the northern 
tribes continued to present themselves at Jerusalem 
in the autumn at harvest time, in order to take part 
in the service of the invisible God. This loyalty to the 
Jewish capital, even though manifested by only a part 
of his subjects, was a source of great anxiety to Jero- 
boam. How would it be if the people turned in ever 


increasing numbers to the temple in Jerusalem, and 
once more made peace with the house of David? 
Would he not be dethroned as quickly as he had 
attained to royalty ? In order to avoid the possibility 
of such a reunion, Jeroboam matured a wicked plan, 
which caused Israel to fall back into the ways of 
idolatry and barbarity. 

During his protracted stay in Egypt, Jeroboam 
had become acquainted with the system of worship 
established there, and he had observed that the 
worship of animals, particularly of the bull, tended to 
promote the aims of despotic government. He had 
observed that this animal worship served to stul- 
tify the nation, and Jeroboam thought he might turn 
to his own purposes a system so politic and advan- 
tageous. He therefore, in conjunction with his ad- 
visers, devised a plan by which these observances 
should be introduced in the Ten Tribes. He con- 
sidered that this idol-worship might be of advantage 
to him in other ways, as it would keep him in favour 
with the court of Egypt. Israel would appear as a 
dependency of Egypt, and both countries, having com- 
mon religious observances and customs, would also 
have common interests. The habits of Egypt were 
of special interest to him, as his wife was probably 
an Egyptian, and connected with the royal house of 
Egypt. Jeroboam also studied the convenience of 
the tribes. He wished to relieve those who lived far 
off from the necessity of making long journeys at the 
time of the harvest. At Bethel and at Dan, Jeroboam, 
therefore, put up golden calves, and issued a procla- 
mation to the effect: "This is thy God,O Israel, who 
brought thee out of Egypt." In Bethel, where he 
himself intended to preside at the worship, he built a 
large temple, in which he also placed a sacrificial altar. 
To prevent the people from celebrating the Feast of 
Ingathering at Jerusalem, he fixed the festival a month 
later (in the eighth instead of the seventh month). 
Probably also a different time-reckoning was followed, 


according to the longer solar, instead of the shorter 
lunar year. 

The nation, as a whole, appears to have taken no 
offence at this alteration, but to have actually re- 
garded it as a revival of the ancient mode of worship. 
The fundamental principle, the unity of God, was in 
no way affected by it. Jeroboam had not attempted 
to introduce polytheism, but had merely given them 
incarnations of the Deity, symbolising strength and 
fruitfulness. The people, naturally sensual, were, 
indeed, well pleased to have a representation of the 
Godhead. The spirituality of God, not admitting 
of ocular demonstration, was at that period more 
remote from their comprehension than the conception 
of His unity. Sensual dissipation and depravity 
were not bound up with the worship of the bull as 
with the Canaanite service of Baal, and therefore it 
did not outrage the moral sense. 

Thus the people gradually became accustomed to 
repair to Bethel or Dan for the high feasts; other- 
wise they made their offerings at home, or at the 
nearest place where sacrifices had been offered of old. 
Jeroboam fully attained his object; the nation became 
stultified, and bowed to him in servile obedience. 
The tribe ofLevi, however, caused him anxiety. No 
Levite would consent to perform the office of priest 
at the worship of the bull; for Samuel's prophetic 
teachings had made a lasting impression on this 
tribe. That Jeroboam might not compel their 
services, the Levites, who had been living in the 
Israelitish towns, wandered forth, and settled in the 
kingdom of Judah. As he could not possibly manage 
without priests, he took any one who offered himself 
to serve in that capacity. At one festival he himself 
performed the priestly office, in order to elevate it in 
the eyes of the people, or, perhaps, in imitation of 
the Egyptian custom. Jeroboam was thus led step 
by step to destroy the original principles of Judaism. 

His conduct was not allowed to pass uncon- 


demned. The old prophet, Ahijah, of Shiloh, who 
had incited Nebat's ambitious son to insurrection, now 
was too old and frail to lift his voice publicly against 
these proceedings. When, however, Jeroboam's wife 
visited him at Shiloh, to consult him about the dan- 
gerous illness of her eldest son, the prophet took the 
opportunity of announcing to her the approaching 
dissolution of the royal house. But a return was 
impossible, without paving the way to a reunion 
with the house of David. From motives of self-pre- 
servation, he was obliged to continue in the way he 
had chosen. The new worship was, therefore, re- 
tained during the existence of the kingdom of the 
Ten Tribes, and none of Jeroboam's successors at- 
tempted to make any alteration in its form. 

In the kingdom of Judah (or House of Jacob), the 
conditions were quite different. Politically weakened 
by the severance of the tribes and the incursions of 
Egypt under Shishak, its wounds were too deep to 
heal before the lapse of a considerable time. But Judah 
had not sunk in religion or morals. Rehoboam 
appears to have troubled himself but little about 
religious or moral affairs; he was indifferent in every 
respect, and his pride having once received a blow, 
he seems to have passed his days in idleness. But 
the Temple, on the one hand, and the Levites, on the 
other, appear to have counteracted all deteriorating 
influences. In outward appearance all remained as 
it had been in the time of Solomon ; the High Altars 
(Bamoth), on which families performed the sacrificial 
rites throughout the year, continued to be maintained, 
but at the autumn festivals the people repaired to 
the temple. Deviations from the established order 
of divine service were exceptional, and were accepted 
only by the circle of court ladies. As Solomon had 
permitted altars to be erected for his heathen wives, 
Rehoboam did not feel called upon to be more severe 
in his enactments. His mother Maachah, the daughter 
or granddaughter of Absalom, had a predilection for 


the immoral Canaanite worship ; she erected a statue 
of Astarte in her palace, and maintained temple 
priestesses. Rehoboam permitted all this, but the 
unholy innovations did not spread very wide. Mean- 
while, although idolatrous practices did not gain 
ground in the kingdom of Judah, there was no im- 
pulse towards a higher stage of moral culture under 
Rehoboam's government. A weakness seemed to 
have come over the people, as if they were in the last 
stage of senility. Nearly two centuries elapsed before 
traces of a higher spiritual force became evident. 
Rehoboam's reign of seventeen years was inglorious. 
The reign of his son Abijam (960-958) passed in a 
like manner. He also indulged in petty acts of 
hostility against Jeroboam, but without any important 
result. He, too, permitted the idolatrous practices 
of his mother Maachah. Abijam, it appears, died 
young, leaving no issue, and he was therefore suc- 
ceeded by his brother Asa (957-918). He again 
was a minor, and the queen-mother Maachah held 
the reins of government. At first she seems to 
have desired to extend her idolatrous and immoral 
worship, but a revolution in the kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes put an end to her projects, and changed the 
course of events. 

Nadab, who had succeeded to the throne on the 
death of Jeroboam (955-954), undertook a war 
against the Philistines, and besieged the Danite city 
of Gibbethon, which the Philistines had occupied. 
During this campaign a soldier by the name of 
Baesha (Baasha) conspired against the king in the 
camp, and killed him. From the camp Baasha pro- 
ceeded to the capital, Tirzah, and destroyed the 
whole house of Jeroboam (954). The founder of 
this dynasty had not been anointed by the prophet; 
he was not considered inviolable, like Saul and 
David, and therefore the hand of the murderer was 
not restrained. Baasha was the first of the list of 
regicides in the Ten Tribes, and his act hastened the 
fate impending over the nation. 


Having perpetrated the murder, he took possession 
of the throne and kingdom (954-933). He con- 
tinued Tirzah as the capital, on account of its central 
position. It lay in the very heart of the kingdom, and 
possessed the additional advantage of being fortified. 
Had Baasha abolished the worship of the bull, he 
might have drawn to his side the worthier portion of 
the people of Judah. The latter were indignant at 
the idolatrous innovations of Maachah, which were 
more reprehensible than the bull-worship, as with them 
were connected the depraved habits of the temple 
priestesses. In Jerusalem the fear of eventual sym- 
pathy with Israel appears to have arisen ; but Asa 
hastened to avert the calamity. Either on his own 
impulse, or urged thereto by one of the prophets, he 
snatched the reins of government from the hands of 
the queen-mother, forbade the worship of Astarte, 
removed the priestesses, and burnt the disgusting 
image which had been erected for worship in the 
valley of Kedron. Through these resolute acts Asa 
secured for himself the good-will of the well-disposed 
among his people. 

The old inconclusive feuds between the two king- 
doms were continued between Asa and Baasha. 
The former is said to have acquired several cities of 
Ephraim, and to have incorporated them in his own 
kingdom. In order to secure himself from the attacks 
of Judah, Baasha seems to have entered into a league 
with the king of Egypt, and to have urged him to 
carry war into the lands of his own foe. An Egyptian 
general named Zerah (Osorkon) sallied forth with a 
numerous body of Ethiopians, and pressed forwards 
as far as Mareshah, about ten leagues south-west of 
Jerusalem. Asa, however, marched against him 
with the combined forces of Judah and Benjamin, 
defeated the Ethiopian army north of Mareshah, 
pursued it as far as Gerar,and brought back enormous 
booty to Jerusalem. 

Baasha was disconcerted by these proceedings, 


and endeavoured to bring about an alliance with the 
Aramaean king, Ben-hadad I., of Damascus, who, 
hitherto friendly to the kingdom of Judah, had pre- 
vented all inimical attacks. Ben-hadad, the son of 
Tabrimon, now cancelled his treaty with Asa, and 
went over to Baasha's side. The latter conquered 
Ramah, the birth-place and residence of the prophet 
Samuel, which belonged to the Benjamites, and 
fortified it so that it served as a base whence to 
make raids on the neighbouring districts. Alarmed 
at these doings, Asa endeavoured to revive the 
treaty with the king of Damascus, and sent ambas- 
sadors to him, with quantities of treasure in silver 
and gold, which he took both from the Temple and 
from his palaces. Ben-hadad allowed himself to be 
won over; it flattered him to be thus sought after 
by both realms, to which his people had formerly 
been obliged to pay tribute. He resolved to utilise 
the weakness of both sides, and he commanded an 
army to effect an entrance into the north of the 
kingdom of Israel; he subjugated Ijon, Dan, and the 
contiguous region of Abel-Bethmaachah; and also 
reduced the district around the lake of Tiberias, and 
the mountainous lands of the tribe of Naphtali. Asa 
was thus saved at the expense of Judah's sister 
nation ; and Baasha was forced to abandon his desire 
for conquest, and to relinquish Ramah. 

Asa now summoned all the men capable of bearing 
arms to assist in the destruction of the fortifications 
of Ramah. The death of Baasha, which occurred soon 
after this (in 933), and a revolution which ensued 
in Tirzah, left Asa free from menace on that side. 
Mizpah, a town having a very high and favourable 
situation, was made an important citadel by Asa. 
He also built a deep and roomy cistern in the rocks, 
in order to have stores of water in case of a siege. 

Meanwhile, in the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, ter- 
rible events were happening, which were productive 
of changes in both kingdoms. Baasha was succeeded 


by his son Elah (933-932), who was addicted to idle- 
ness and drunkenness. Whilst his warriors were 
engaged in battle with the Philistines, and were attack- 
ing Gibbethon, he passed his days in drinking-bouts. 
This circumstance was taken advantage of by his 
servant Simri (Zimri), the commander of one-half of 
the war-chariots, which had remained behind in 
Tirzah. Whilst Elah was dissipating in the house of 
the captain of his palace, Zimri killed him (in 932), 
at the same time destroying the entire house of 
Baasha, and not even sparing its friends. He then, 
as a matter of course, ascended the throne, but his 
reign was of short duration ; it lasted only one week. 
No sooner had the news of the king's murder reached 
the army, then besieging Gibbethon, than they elected 
the Israelitish general Omri, as king. He repaired 
to the capital, but finding the gates closed against 
him, he laid siege to the city and effected a breach 
in the wall. When Zimri discovered that he was 
lost, he anticipated a disgraceful end by setting fire to 
the palace and perishing in the flames. He was the 
third of five kings of Israel who died an unnatural 
death, and only two of them were buried in the 
mausoleum for the kings, erected by Jeroboam. A 
fourth king was soon to be added to the list. Omri, 
a warrior, expected to obtain the vacant throne forth- 
with, but he met with opposition. One part of the 
population of the capital had chosen another king, 
Tibni, the son of Ginath; he was probably a native 
of the city. Thus two parties were formed in the 
capital, and the streets were no doubt deluged with 
blood. A civil war was the one thing wanting in 
the domains of Ephraim to make the measure of 
misery full to overflowing. For three years the 
partisan conflict raged (932-928) ; at length the party 
of Omri gained the upper hand. Tibni was killed, 
and Omri remained sole ruler (928). He, however, 
felt ill at ease in Tirzah; the palace was in ashes 
since the death of Zimri, and other depredations had 
no doubt taken place during the protracted civil war. 

CH. X. OMRI. 193 

The conquered party was hostile to him, and Omri, 
therefore, determined to transfer the seat of the 
empire. He could not select Shechem, where the 
restless and rebellious spirit of the inhabitants would 
not permit him to live in safety, and there was no other 
important town situated in the heart of the country. 
Omri therefore conceived the idea of building a new 
capital. A high plateau, at a few hours' distance north- 
west of Shechem, seemed to him the fittest spot. He 
bought it of its owner, Shemer, erected buildings, a 
palace and other houses, fortified it, and called it 
Shomron, (Samaria). Whence did he obtain inhabi- 
tants for the newly founded city? He probably 
adopted a course similar to David's in the case of 
Jerusalem, and caused the warriors attached to his 
cause to settle there. A year after his victory over 
the rival king, Omri left Tirzah, and removed 
to Samaria, which was destined to be the rival of 
Jerusalem for a period of two hundred years, and 
then, after two centuries of desertion, to revive, and 
once more wage war against Judah and Jerusalem. 
Samaria inherited the hatred of Shechem against Je- 
rusalem, and increased it tenfold. The new city gave 
its name to the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, and the 
land was thence called the land of Samaria. 

Omri, the first king of Samaria, was neither a 
strong nor a warlike leader, but he was a wise man. 
The crown which he had acquired, rather by the 
favour of circumstances than his own force of will, did 
not satisfy him. He wished to make his court and 
his people great, respected and wealthy, and he 
hoped that the prosperity of the days of Solomon 
might be restored to Israel. It is true that the nation 
was divided, and thereby weakened. But was it 
necessary for war always to be carried on between 
the two portions, and for the sword to destroy them ? 
Connected as they were by reason of tribal relations 
and common interests, could they not henceforth 
pursue their course in friendly alliance ? 

194 HISTORY OF THE JEWS. en. x. 

Omri endeavoured, in the first place, to make 
peace with the representative of the royal house of 
David, and to impress upon him the advantages, to 
both of them, of pursuing an amicable policy. They 
might in that way obtain their former sway over the 
countries which had once been tributary to them. For 
a long time friendly relations were actually estab- 
lished between the two kingdoms; and they sup- 
ported, instead of opposing, each other. Omri also 
cherished to a great, perhaps even to a too great de- 
gree, the hope of a friendly alliance with Phoenicia. 
He desired that a part of the riches w^hich their ex- 
tensive maritime expeditions and trade introduced 
into that country, might also flow into his own king- 
dom. At this time various kings had waded to the 
throne in Tyre through the blood of their prede- 
cessors, until at length Ethbaal (Ithobal), a priest of 
Astarte, ascended the throne, after the murder of his 
predecessor, Phalles. The disastrous occurrences in 
Phoenicia had greatly weakened the land. The 
great families had been compelled to emigrate, and 
had founded colonies on the north coast of Africa. 
The kingdom of Damascus, which had acquired 
great power, sought to obtain possession of the 
productive coast-line of Phoenicia ; Ethbaal, therefore, 
had to strengthen himself by means of alliances. 
The kingdom of the Ten Tribes was nearest to him. 

Omri and Ethbaal therefore had common interests, 
and formed an offensive and defensive treaty. The 
league, desired by both powers, was confirmed by an 
intermarriage. Omri's son Ahab married Ethbaal's 
daughter Jezebel (Jezabel or Izebel) a marriage 
which was fraught with disastrous consequences. 

Omri, fortified by this alliance, could now venture 
to think of undertaking warlike expeditions. He 
captured several towns of Moab, which had emanci- 
pated itself under Jeroboam's rule, and compelled it 
to become once more tributary. He forced the 
Moabites to send herds of oxen and rams every year 

CH. X. OMRI. 1 95 

as tribute. As, however, a sort of alliance existed 
between Moab and Aram, and an increase of Israel's 
power was watched by Aram with a jealous eye, the 
Aramaean king of Damascus, Ben-hadad I., declared 
war against Omri, and recovered some of the cities 
he had taken. Omri was forced to accept peace 
with Ben-hadad on hard terms, and bound himself 
to open the caravan-roads through the kingdom of 
Israel, and to allow free passage through the land. 

Omri thereupon entered into a closer alliance with 
the kingdom of Tyre, and pursued the plan of as- 
similating his people to their Canaanite neighbours. 
Why should he endeavour to keep Israel separate 
from, the surrounding peoples? Would it not be 
wiser and better to permit the kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes to assume a Phoenician or Tyrian character ? 
United as they were in language and customs, might 
not the two races become more closely welded to- 
gether, if the Phoenician form of worship were intro- 
duced into the kingdom of Israel? Omri led the 
way to this union. He introduced the service of 
Baal and Astarte as the official mode of worship ; 
he built a temple for Baal in his capital of Sama- 
ria, ordained priests, and commanded that sacri- 
fices should be universally made to the Phoenician 
idols. He desired to see the worship of the bull, 
as observed in Bethel and Dan, abolished. It 
seemed to him too distinctly Israelitish in charac- 
ter, and to be likely to maintain the division between 
the Israelites and Phoenicians. Jehovah, adored with 
or without a visible image, was too striking a con- 
trast to the Tyrian Baal or Adonis for Omri to per- 
mit His worship to remain. Omri's innovations 
were of far greater import than those of Jeroboam ; 
or, to speak in the language of the Bible, he acted 
yet more sinfully than his predecessors. He desired 
to rob the nation of its God and of its origin; he de- 
sired it to forget that it had a special nationality in 
contradistinction to that of the idolaters. History 


has not recorded how these changes were received. 
His son Ahab (922-901) was destined to continue 
the work, his lather's bequest, as it were. In further- 
ance of the latter's projects he naturally kept up the 
close connection with Tyre and with the king of 

But the execution of a charge involving the sever- 
est attacks on the inner convictions of man is, in spite 
of all one may do, dependent on circumstances or 
contingencies beyond the calculations of the wisest 
mind. Two kinds of obstacles intervened to prevent 
the Canaanisation of the Ten Tribes. The one was 
Ahab's disposition, and the other arose from an un- 
expected cause which weakened, if it did not entirely 
destroy, the effect of the terrible blow aimed at reli- 
gion. In order to accomplish this transformation of 
the nation into a mere appendage of Phoenicia, and 
the consequent loss of its own identity, the successor 
of Omri needed a powerful mind, an unbending will, 
and unyielding severity to crush all opposition with 
a strong hand. Ahab was, however, of an entirely 
different nature weak, mild, loving peace and com- 
fort, rather disposed to avoid disturbances and 
obstacles than to seek or remove them. Had it 
rested with him alone, he would have abandoned his 
father's system and given himself up to such enjoy- 
ments as the royal power granted him, regardless of 
what the future might bring. Ahab was not even 
warlike ; he permitted the neighbouring kings to 
treat him in a manner which would have excited the 
indignation and roused the most determined opposi- 
tion of any king not altogether destitute of the feel- 
ing of honour. But as he was forced against his de- 
sire and inclination to enter into a contest with an 
ambitious neighbour, so he was also compelled to 
enter upon a conflict with the Israelitish nation. His 
father had given him a wife in every way his oppo- 
site, with a strong manly will, who was determined 
to gain her ends by severity and cruelty, if necessary. 


Jezebel, the Phoenician princess, whose father had 
filled the post of priest to Astarte before he obtained 
the throne, was filled with enthusiastic eagerness to 
carry out the plan of Canaanising the people of 
Israel. Either from a perverted idea or from polit- 
ical considerations, she desired to amalgamate the 
Israelitish people with her own, and make Tyrians 
and Israelites one nation. She continued the work 
commenced by Omri, with energy and mercilessness, 
and led her weak-minded husband into all kinds 
of oppressive and unrighteous actions. Jezebel's 
gloomy and obstinate character, with her uncontroll- 
able energy, was the cause of a ferment and commo- 
tion in the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, which led to 
disastrous results, but which, like a destroying storm, 
performed the beneficent service of clearing the 
atmosphere. Jezebel's first step was to build a great 
temple to Baal in the capital of Samaria. In such a 
temple there were three altars, images and pillars, 
which were dedicated to a sort of holy trinity: 
Baal, his consort Astarte, and the god of fire or de- 
struction (Moloch Chammon). For this worship, 
Jezebel introduced into the country a host of priests 
and prophets (450 for Baal and 400 for Astarte), 
who were supported at the expense of the royal 
house, and dined at the queen's table. Some of these 
priests attended to the sacrifices in Samaria, while 
others rushed madly through the country, celebrating 
their scandalous rites in the cities and villages. The 
Phoenician priests or prophets attired themselves in 
women's apparel, painted their faces and eyes, as 
women were in the habit of doing, their arms bared 
to the shoulders, and carried swords and axes, 
scourges, castanets, pipes, cymbals and drums. Danc- 
ing and wailing, they whirled round in a circle, by 
turns bowed their heads to the ground, and dragged 
their hair through the mud. They also bit their arms 
and cut their bodies with swords and knives till the 
blood ran, providing an offering for their blood- 


thirsty goddess. Doubtless they were accompanied 
by temple priestesses (Kedeshoth), who followed 
their shameful pursuit in honour of Astarte, and for 
the benefit of the priests. By means of this troop of 
priests of Baal and the ecstatic followers of Astarte, 
Jezebel hoped to wean the Israelitish people from the 
God of its fathers, and to carry into effect the plan of 
entirely transforming the national character. At the 
head of the Phoenician priesthood there was a high 
priest, who probably gave instructions and commands 
as to how they were to proceed. In the first place, 
the altars dedicated to God were destroyed, and 
others erected in the Canaanite fashion, with pointed 
pillars, the symbols of an obscene cult. The altars 
in Bethel and Dan were, no doubt, transformed in a 
similar manner. It was intended that the sacrifice- 
loving nation, for want of altars of its own, should 
bring its offerings to the temples of Baal and of As- 
tarte, and thus become accustomed to this mode of 
worship. How easy it is to force a nation to give up 
its usages and peculiarities, and to accept those oi 
strangers, if the rulers act with subtlety and force 
combined! The Israelites in the kingdom of the 
Ten Tribes had already been demoralised, owing to 
their half-century's separation from Jerusalem (the 
centre of intellectual activity), and to the bull-worship 
which they had long been practising. The cities had 
acquired a taste for luxury, and a love of dissipation, 
which the impure worship of Baal and Astarte only 
served to foster. The towns doubtless, for the 
most part, yielded to the new state of things, or, in 
any case, offered no opposition to it. Seven thou- 
sand individuals alone remained firm, and would 
not pay homage to Baal, nor adore him with their 
lips. A part of the nation, amongst them the vil- 
lagers, meanwhile wavered in their ideas and actions, 
and not knowing whether God or Baal was the 
mightier divinity, they worshipped the one publicly 
and the other secretly. It was a period of uncer- 

CH. X. ELIJAH, 199 

tainty and confusion, such as usually precedes an 
historical crisis. It remained to be seen whether the 
ancient belief in the God of Israel, and the demands 
of holiness had taken sufficiently deep root, and had 
acquired enough vitality and power to conquer an 
opposing force and eradicate what was foreign. In 
such times a man of striking personality, in whom 
lives a pure faith, and who is entirely ruled by it, 
naturally assumes leadership, and by firmness, enthu- 
siasm and heroic self-sacrifice convinces the waverers, 
strengthens the weak, incites the indifferent, and thus 
collects an army of defenders to rescue from immi- 
nent destruction their own national, peculiar endow- 
ments. When such an individual is roused by the 
very opposition of the enemy, and spurred on to ac- 
tion, he becomes a vivifying principle, and brings 
about a new state of things, a mingling of both old 
and new elements. Such an individual arose during 
this crisis in the person of the prophet Elijah (920 

Whence came this energetic, all-subduing prophet? 
In which tribe was his cradle? Who was his father? 
This is not known. He was simply known as Elijahu 
(shortened into Elijah). He was not a citizen 6\ 
Transjordanic Gilead, but belonged to that class of 
tolerated half-citizens called Toshabim (dwellers). 
He was of a tempestuous nature, and was guided by 
no considerations of expediency; he would not have 
hesitated to offer his life for his creed. He was con- 
sidered by his successors as the incarnation of moral 
and religious zeal (kanna). Like a tempest he made 
his entry, like a tempest he thundered forth his exe- 
crations against the weak, woman-led Ahab ; like a 
tempest he rushed away, so that no one could seize 
him ; and in a tempest he finally disappeared from, 
his earthly scene of action. Elijah was imbued with 
the one thought, to save the belief in the God of 
Israel, which was passing away from the minds 
of the people. To this God he dedicated himself, 


and to His service did his life belong solely and exclu- 
sively. Elijah was outwardly distinguishable by his 
peculiar dress. In contradistinction to the effeminate, 
luxurious dress of the worshippers of Baal and 
Astarte, his undergarment was confined by a leather 
belt, and over it he wore a black hairy cloak. He 
wore his hair long, and touched no wine, and thus 
gave rise to the institution of Nazarites, who were 
not permitted to drink wine or to shave the hair of 
the head. In this costume and with these habits he 
appeared first in Gilead, and there announced the 
all-embracing creed, " Jehovah alone is God.'' Here, 
where the Jordan offered a barrier against the swarms 
of the priests of Baal, and where the fear of Ahab and 
Jezebel could not paralyze the conscience, there were 
yet faithful adherents of the God of Israel. Amongst 
these Elijah probably found his first auditors and 
disciples, who were carried away by his enthusiastic 
manner, and became his helpers. 

In a short time a body of prophets or disciples 
(Bene-Nebiim) had arisen, who were ready to give 
up their lives for their ancestral tenets. They also 
followed Elijah's way of living, and became Nazarites. 
The principles of this newly formed circle were to 
lead a simple life, not to dwell in cities where luxury 
and effeminacy ruled, but in village tents, not to drink 
wine, not to till vineyards, to avoid agriculture gener- 
ally, but, like the patriarchs and the tribes in earlier 
times, to live by tending flocks. Jonadab, the son of 
Rechab, who doubtless was one of the followers of 
Elijah, was the first to establish these rules for him- 
self and his household. He impressed on his 
descendants the necessity of abstaining from wine, 
from building fixed residences, from sowing seed, 
and especially from planting vineyards. In this 
way Elijah not only aroused and inspired a band 
of defenders of the ancient law for his own time, 
but opened the path to a new future. He set 
simplicity and self-restraint against degeneracy and 


love of pleasure. With his body of disciples he 
eagerly commenced action against the priests and 
prophets of Baal. He probably passed rapidly from 
place to place, called the populace together, and 
inspired them with his storm-like eloquence, the point 
of which was " Jehovah alone is God, and Baal and 
Astarte are dumb, lifeless idols." He may even have 
incited attacks on those priests of Baal whom he 
encountered. Jezebel could not long endure the 
doings of the energetic Tishbite, which interfered 
with her plans; she sent her soldiers against Elijah's 
troop, and those who fell into their hands were 
mercilessly slaughtered. They were the first martyrs 
who died for Israel's ancient law. Jezebel, the 
daughter of Ethbaal, the priest of Astarte, was the 
first persecutor for religion's sake. Elijah himself, 
however, on whom Jezebel was specially anxious to 
wreak her vengeance, could never be reached, but 
always eluded his pursuers. His zeal had already 
produced an important effect. Obadiah, the super- 
intendent of Ahab's palace, was secretly attached to 
the ancient law. He who, perhaps, had the task of 
persecuting the disciples of the prophet, hid one 
hundred of them in two caves of Mount Carmel, fifty 
in each cave, and supplied them with bread and water. 
Obadiah was not alone he had in his employ men 
of his own faith, who executed his secret commissions. 
How could Jezebel combat an invisible enemy that 
found assistance in her own house ? 

One day, Elijah, though deprived of his followers, 
ventured into the vicinity of King Ahab, whose 
weak, pliable disposition he knew, in order to reproach 
him for the misdeeds which he permitted. Ahab had 
a passion for building and fortifying towns. It was 
at his instance that Jericho, which had been deprived 
of its walls since the entry of the Israelites, was forti- 
fied by Hiel of Bethel. Ahab also founded a new 
capital in the beautiful table-land of Jezreel, where he 
was desirous of passing the winter months, for 


Samaria served only as a summer residence. This 
new town of Jezreel, which was destined to become 
the scene of tragic encounters, was built with great 
splendour. The royal couple had a palace of ivory 
erected there, which was to be surrounded by exten- 
sive gardens. For this purpose Ahab wished to have a 
beautiful vineyard which belonged toNaboth,oneofthe 
most respected citizens of Jezreel. Ahab offered him 
a compensation, either in money or land, but Naboth 
did not wish to part with the heritage of his fathers. 
Disappointed at his inability to surround his palace 
with park-like grounds, Ahab would not even take 
food. Finding him in this state, Jezebel contemptu- 
ously upbraided him for his childish vexation and his 
cowardly helplessness, but promised him that he 
should nevertheless possess the desired vineyard. 
She sent out letters in the king's name to those of the 
elders of Israel of whose slavish obedience she was cer- 
tain, and commanded them to produce two witnesses 
who would testify to having heard Naboth revile the 
gods and the king. When the council of judges had 
assembled at one of the gates of Jezreel, and Naboth, 
who was the eldest among them, had placed himself 
at their head, two degraded men appeared, and testi- 
fied against Naboth, under oath, as they had been 
instructed. Naboth was condemned to death by the 
elders, and the sentence was carried out not only 
on him, but also on his sons. The property of the 
executed fell by law to the king. Jezebel triumph- 
antly announced to her husband, " Now take Naboth's 
vineyard, for he is dead." When Eljah heard of this 
crime, he could no longer contain himself. He 
repaired to Jezreel and met the king just as he was 
inspecting Naboth's vineyard. Behind him rode two 
men, of whom one was fated to become the avenger 
of Naboth. The prophet thundered out to him, 
r Hast thou murdered, and dost now take posses- 
sion ?" " In the place where dogs licked the blood 
of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine." 


(i Kings xxi. 1 9 ; see 2 Kings ix. 25). This denuncia- 
tion had an overwhelming effect on Ahab. He reflected 
and meekly did penance, but ruthless Jezebel's power 
over her weak-minded husband was too strong for 
this change of mind to last. 

Elijah, who had suddenly disappeared, now returned 
a second time to Ahab, and announced that a famine 
of several years' duration would befall the land. He 
then departed and dwelt in the Phoenician town of 
Zarephath (Sarepta), at the house of a widow, and 
later in a cave of Mount Carmel. Meanwhile a fam- 
ine devastated the land, and there was not fodder 
even for the king's horses. One day, Elijah ap- 
proached Obadiah, the superintendent of the palace, 
and said to him, " Go, tell thy master, Elijah is here." 
On his entrance, Ahab said to him," Is it thou, disturber 
of Israel?" Then the prophet replied," Not I have 
troubled Israel, but thou and thy father's house 

As though he had the right to give orders, he 
bade the king command the priests of Baal to assem- 
ble on Mount Carmel, where it would be revealed 
who was the true, and who the false prophet. 

What occurred on Mount Carmel, where the con- 
test took place, must have produced an extraordi- 
nary impression. Ahab, we are told, summoned all 
the prophets of Baal to the mountain, whither many 
of the people repaired, anxious to witness the result 
of the contest between the prophet and the king, 
and to see whether the prevailing drought would in 
consequence come to an end. The hundred pro- 
phets who had hidden in the caves of Carmel, and 
were maintained there by Obadiah, were probably also 
present. Elijah presided at the assembly, which he 
addressed, saying (i Kings xviii. 21): "How long 
halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, 
follow him ; but if Baal, then follow him." He then 
ordered the priests of Baal to erect an altar, offer 
sacrifices, and call on their god for a miracle. The 


priests did so, and according to their custom, they 
wounded themselves with knives and lances till the 
blood gushed forth over their bodies. They cried 
from morning till midday, " O Baal, hear us ! " When 
they at length ceased in confusion, Elijah erected an 
altar of twelve stones, performed his sacrifice, and 
prayed in a low voice. Then a miracle followed so 
suddenly that all present fell on their faces and cried, 
" Jehovah alone is God ! ' : A flash of lightning burnt 
the sacrifice and everything on the altar, even the 
water in the trench was dried up. Elijah determined 
to avenge himself on the priests of Baal, and com- 
manded the multitude to kill them and throw their 
bodies into the river Kishon, which flowed hard by. 
Ahab, who was present, was so amazed and terror- 
stricken that he permitted this act of violence. 

Jezebel, however, who was made of sterner stuff, 
did not look with equal unconcern on this scene. On 
receiving information of what had occurred, she 
threatened Elijah with a similar fate, if he should ever 
fall into her hands. He was, therefore, obliged to flee 
in order to save himself. In the desert near Mount 
Horeb he had a vision, in which it was revealed to 
him that the kingdom would pass away from the 
house of Ahab, whose descendants would be utterly 
destroyed, and that Jehu was to be anointed as king 
over Israel. Elijah himself was instructed to return 
on his way to the wilderness of Damascus, appoint a 
successor, and retire from the scene of action. The 
intemperate zeal which had led him to direct the 
slaughter of the priests of Baal was severely con- 
demned on Horeb. 

During Elijah's long absence there appears to have 
been a sort of truce between the royal house of Omri 
and the followers of the Tishbite. Ahab, who had 
been an eye-witness of the events at Carmel, had 
probably become more indifferent towards the wor- 
ship of Baal, and as far as lay in his power had put a 
stop to the persecution of the prophets of the Lord, 


The latter, on their part, also seem to have become 
less aggressive. Associations of prophets were 
formed in Jericho, Bethel and Gilgal, in which places 
they were permitted to dwell unmolested. 

One prophet or disciple, however, remained inimi- 
cal to Ahab namely, Michaiah, son of Imlah. As 
often as the king sought out Michaiah to learn 
his prospects of success in some enterprise, the 
prophet foretold evil. Ahab, however, did not at- 
tempt his life, but merely imprisoned him. The 
ruler of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes had misfor- 
tunes enough to serve him as forewarnings. The 
king of Aram, Ben-hadad II., became daily more pow- 
erful, more presuming, and more eager for conquest. 
Besides his own horsemen and chariots, he had in his 
train thirty-two conquered vassal kings. With their 
assistance he attacked Ahab doubtless in the hope 
of profiting by the famine and the discord which 
were weakening his kingdom. Ben-hadad subdued 
entire districts of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, 
and besieged Samaria (904). In his distress, Ahab 
sued for peace, but Ben-hadad imposed such hard 
and disgraceful conditions that Ahab was forced to 
continue the contest. Finally, Ahab was victorious, 
and the Aramaean king, forced to surrender, was 
ready to promise anything in order to secure peace. 
The former enemies became friends, made a treaty 
and ratified it by many oaths, soon to be forgotten. 
This hastily-formed alliance was rightly condemned 
by one of the prophets, who predicted that Ahab had 
thereby created a fresh source of danger. 

Ben-hadad, in fact, had no desire to fulfil the con- 
ditions and promises of the treaty. He restored, it is 
true, the captured town of Naphtali, but the Trans- 
jordanic cities, especially the important town of 
Ramoth-Gilead, he refused to cede, and Ahab was 
too indifferent to press the matter. The longer he 
delayed, the more difficult it became for him to insist 
on his claim, as Ben-hadad meanwhile was recovering 


his strength. Perhaps it would have been impossi- 
ble for Ahab alone to regain possession of Ramoth- 
Gilead by force of arms. Just at this time he formed 
an alliance with King Jehoshaphat of J udah (9 1 8-905), 
and together with this king, he ventured to proceed 
against Ben-hadad. This alliance was a surprising 
one, seeing that Jehoshaphat detested the idolatrous 
perversions of Ahab and Jezebel, and could not 
approve of the forcible introduction of the Baal- 
worship into Samaria, nor of the cruel persecution of 
the prophets. Nevertheless, he formed an intimate 
connection with the house of Omri, and, guided by 
political reasons, even permitted his son Jehoram to 
marry Athaliah, the idolatrous daughter of Ahab. 

When Jehoshaphat paid his visit to Samaria, in 
order to strengthen himself by an alliance with its 
king, Ahab probably solicited his royal guest to aid 
him in recovering Ramoth-Gilead; and the king of 
Judah promised the help e-f his nation and soldiery. 
Thus, after a long separation, the kings of Israel and 
Judah fought side by side. After crossing the 
Jordan with Jehoshaphat, Ahab was mortally wounded 
by an arrow as he stood in his war-chariot, but he 
possessed sufficient presence of mind to order his 
charioteer to drive him out of the turmoil of the battle. 
The soldiers were not informed of the king's condi- 
tion, and fought until evening. Not until after the 
king had bled to death did the herald announce " Let 
each return to his own country and to his own town." 
The Israelitish and Judaean armies then recrossed the 
Jordan, and the Aramaeans remained in possession of 
the mountain city of Ramoth-Gilead. Ahab's corpse 
was brought to Samaria and interred. But his blood, 
which had filled the chariot, was washed out at a pool 
and licked up by dogs. 

Ahaziah, his son, succeeded Ahab, this being the 
first occasion on which the kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes descended in a direct line to a grandson. He 
reigned only a short time (901-900). and but little is 


known of his character. In spite of all warnings, he 
followed in the evil ways of his parents. Falling from 
the window of his room, he took to bed, and sent to Ek- 
ron to consult the oracle of the reputed idol Baal-Zebub 
(Bel-Zebul). By this time Elijah had returned from his 
sojourn on Mount Horeb, but in accordance with the 
commands laid upon him, he had remained in seclu- 
sion, probably on Mount Carmel. He no longer 
interfered with the course of events, but had chosen 
as his successor Elisha, son of Shaphat, who lived 
near the Jordan. The manner of choice was charac- 
teristic of Elijah. While Elisha was ploughing a field 
with a yoke of oxen, Elijah approached, threw over 
him his dusky mantle (the distinctive garb of the 
prophets), and went away. If Elisha was indeed 
worthy to succeed him, he would understand the 
siofn. Elisha ran after him and begged him to wait 

^> tJ CJ 

until he had taken leave of his parents. "Go! 
return!" said Elijah curtly. Elisha understood that 
a faithful prophet of God must leave father and 
mother, and sacrifice the wishes of his heart and the 
habits of his life. Without returning to his father's 
house, he followed Elijah at once, and became his 
attendant, or, in the language of the time, " poured 
water on his hands." Only once again did Elijah 
take part in public affairs. He accosted the messen- 
ger whom Ahaziah had sent to Baal-Zebub, and said 
to him, " Say to the king who sent thee, Is there no 
God in Israel, that thou sendest to Ekron in order to 
consult Baal-Zebub concerning thine illness? " The 
messenger returned to Samaria and related what he 
had heard of the extraordinary man. From the 
description Ahaziah recognised Elijah, and dispatched 
messengers for him. After a long delay, Elijah went 
fearlessly to Samaria, and announced to Ahaziah that 
he would not again leave his sick bed. As the king 
died without leaving any children, he was succeeded 
by his brother Jehoram (Joram, 899-887). Elijah also 
disappeared from the scene at about the same time. 


His disciples and followers could not believe that the 
mortal frame of so fiery a soul could crumble into 
dust, and the belief arose that he had ascended to 
heaven in a storm-wind. His constant follower, Elisha, 
seeinof that his master desired to avoid him, followed 


him the more closely. Elijah visited Gilgal, Bethel and 
Jericho, followed by Elisha, who did not venture to ask 
him whither he was going. At length they crossed the 
Jordan on dry ground, and then the teacher was -with- 
drawn from his disciple's vision in a fiery chariot with 
fiery horses, which conveyed the prophet to heaven. 
The untiringactivityof Elijah in preserving the ancient 
law under the most unfavorable circumstances, amidst 
ceaseless strife and persecution, surrounded by the 
idolatry and wickedness of the Baal and Astarte 
worship, could only be explained as the result of 
miracles. The greatest marvel, however, which Elijah 
accomplished, consisted in founding a circle of dis- 
ciples who succeeded in keeping alive the teachings 
of the ancient law, and who raised their voices against 
the perversions of the mighty ones of the land. The 
members of the prophetic school founded by the 
prophet lived by the work of their own hands. After 
Elijah's disappearance, the disciples being without a 
leader, Elisha placed himself at their head. In the 
beginning of his career he followed closely in the 
footsteps of his master, keeping aloof from all men, 
and living chiefly on Mount Carmel. Gradually, 
however, he accustomed himself to mix with the 
people, especially after he had succeeded in rousing 
an energetic man to destroy the house of Omri,and 
put an end to the worship of Baal. 

Jehoram, the third of the Omris, was not as fa- 
natical in his desire to spread idolatry as his mother 
Jezebel, but nevertheless Elisha felt so profound an 
aversion for him that he could not bear to meet him 
face to face. After his brother's death, Jehoram un- 
dertook a war against King Mesa (Mesha) in order 
to punish him for his secession, and to reduce him to 


subjection. Together with his brother-in-law, Je- 
hoshaphat, he determined to proceed through Idumea, 
whose king was also to supply auxiliary forces, and 
south of the Dead Sea, towards Moab. By taking 
this route Jehoram passed Jerusalem, where the heads 
of the houses of Israel and Jacob met in a friendly 
way. But it was merely an alliance of the chiefs. 
By the advice of Jehoshaphat, Elisha, as the successor 
of Elijah, was summoned to foretell the issue of the 
war. On seeing Jehoram, the prophet said to him, 
" Were it not out of consideration for King Jehosha- 
phat, I would not look at thee. Go thou to the pro- 
phets of thy father and thy mother." He neverthe- 
less prophesied a favorable result. Mesa, king of 
Moab, who was awaiting the attack of the allies on 
the southern border of his kino-dom, was overcome 


by force of numbers, and fled to the mountain fort- 
ress of Kir-Hiraseth [Kir-Moab, Kerek). The land 
of Moab was laid waste, although Mesa was not sub- 

7 o 

jugated. Not long after, on the death of Jehosha- 
phat, Edom also fell away from Judah. Edom had 
not acted quite fairly in the combined attack on 
Moab, and appears to have come to a friendly un- 
derstanding with Mesa after the withdrawal of the 
allies. It seemed as if the close friendship and inter- 
marriage with the house of Omri was destined to 
bring nothing but misfortune on the house of David. 
Joram (Jehoram), the son of Jehoshaphat, the name- 
sake of his royal brother-in-law of Israel (894-888), 
was so intimately connected with the royal house of 
Israel that he introduced idolatrous practices into his 
own country. There can be no question but that his 
wife Athaliah was the cause of this, for she, like her 
mother Jezebel, was fanatically attached to the dis- 
graceful rites connected with the worship of Baal. 

At length the fate impending over the house of 
Omri was to be fulfilled, and the house of David was 
destined to be entangled in its meshes, woven by 
Elisha. A chancre of dynasty had occurred in Da- 


mascus, where Ben-hadad II., the same king who had 
warred with Ahab, had been suffocated by his confi- 
dential servant Hazael,who seized the throne. Hazael 
was desirous of regaining the conquered portions of 
the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, which had been lost 
by Ben-hadad. He first directed his attacks against 
the tribes on the other side of the Jordan. Jehoram 
of Israel repaired with his army to Ramoth-Gilead, in 
order to defend that important fortress. The contest 
for the citadel seems to have been a severe one, and 
Jehoram was wounded by an arrow. In consequence 
he went to Jezreel to have his wound attended to, 
and left one of his captains, named Jehu, as com- 
mander of the defence. One day a disciple of the 
prophets came to Jehu as a messenger from Elisha, 
and after leading him from the council of warriors to 
a distant room, where he appointed him the executor 
of divine justice on the house of Omri, he disap- 
peared as suddenly as he had come. When Jehu 
returned to the council, they observed a change in 
his manner, and eagerly asked him what the disciple 
of the prophets had announced to nim. Jehu at first 
did not wish to reply, but at last he disclosed to 
them that at Elisha's instance he had been anointed 
king over the Ten Tribes. The chiefs of the army 
did him homage. Improvising a throne by spreading 
their purple garments on the highest steps of the 
palace, armid trumpet blasts they shouted, " Long 
live King Jehu." Having been acknowledged king 
by the army, Jehu proceeded without delay to carry 
out his design. He blockaded all the roads leading 
from Ramoth-Gilead to Jezreel, so that the news 
might not spread. He then led forth a part of the 
army, crossed the Jordan, and rode in haste to Jez- 
reel, where Jehoram still lay ill from the effects oi his 
wound. The king recognised Jehu from afar, by his 
rapid driving, and as the messenger whom he had 
sent out to meet him failed to return, he foreboded 
evil. Jehoram therefore ordered his chariot that he 

CH. X. JEHU. 2 1 I 

might see what had brought Jehu to Jezreel in 
such hot haste. Ahaziah, the king of Judah (who 
had shortly before this succeeded to the throne 
of his father Joram, 888), accompanied his uncle. 
They met Jehu in the field of Naboth, the victim of 
the judicial murder which Jezebel had brought about. 
When Jehoram saw that Jehu had come with hostile 
intentions, he turned to flee, but an arrow from Jehu's 
hand struck him, and he sank down lifeless in his 
chariot. Jehu ordered his follower Bidkar to cast 
the body into the field of Naboth, reminding him how 
they had been witnesses of the prophetic threat 
which Elijah had uttered against Ahab in that very 
field, and of the execution of which he was now the 
instrument. Ahaziah fell on the same day at the 
hands of Jehu's followers. 

The destruction of the house of Ahab was immi- 
nent, and no one arose in its defence. Jehu entered 
Jezreel unmolested ; the queen-mother, Jezebel, richly 
decked out, came to the palace window, and called, 
"How goes it, thou regicide, thou Zimri ?" Jehu 
commanded the eunuchs of the palace to throw her 
into the street, and they obeyed. The body of the 
queen who had done so much harm was trampled 
down by the horses, and her blood spurted on the wall 
of the palace and over the horses. Naboth was not 
yet, however, fully avenged by the death of the son and 
the grandmother. There were still sons, grandsons, 
and relations of Jehoram, about seventy in number, 
who lived in Samaria, where they were trained and 
educated by the most respected men. To these men 
Jehu sent a message that they should appoint one of 
the royal family as king. They, however, knew that 
this charge was not to be taken seriously, and pre- 
ferred to submit to the man who had already killed 
two kings. Jehu then ordered them to come with the 
"heads" to Jezreel, and thereupon they came with 
the heads of Ahab's descendants. Jehu placed the 
heads in two rows on the city gates, and the next 


morning he explained to the inhabitants of the city 
that, while he had only conspired against Jehoram, 
destiny had fulfilled the words of Elijah concerning 
the house of Ahab. Jehu combined cunning with 
determination; he had all the officers who had 
brought him his victims executed as murderers. 
There being now no survivor of the royal house, Jehu 
took possession of the throne, and the inhabitants of 
Jezreel paid him homage. 

In order to gain the hearts of the nation, he made 
preparations to exterminate the worship of Baal in 
Samaria. On his road thither he met with Jonadab, 
who had adopted the Nazarite mode of life as intro- 
duced by Elijah. Together with Jonadab, Jehu went 
to Samaria, where he assembled the priestsof Baal on 
a certain day. While pretending to join in their 
rites, he placed armed men inside and outside the 
temple of Baal, and went there accompanied by 
Jonadab. Hardly had the sacrifice been offered, when 
all the priests fell as victims. The soldiers killed 
all those inside the temple, and those who fled were 
cut down by the men stationed outside. The soldiers 
then rushed in, burnt the images, destroyed the altar, 
the columns, and also the temple, and converted the 
whole into a dunghill. Throughout the country Jehu 
destroyed the public monuments of the hideous idol- 
worship, for he professed to be a follower of Elijah, 
and zealous in the cause of Jehovah. In Jerusalem 
alone the worship of Baal continued, or rather it was 
fanatically upheld there by Athaliah,who was in every 
way the worthy daughter of her mother. 



Athaliah's rule Early years of Joash Proclamation of Joash by 
Jehoiada Athaliah slain Religious Revival Elisha Repairing 
of the Temple Death of Jehoiada and of his Son Invasion of 
Israel by Hazael Jehoahaz Murder of Joash. King- of Judah 
Jehoash, King of Israel Defeat of the Aramaeans Amaziah 
Conquest of Edom Death of Elisha Amaziah defeated by 
Jehoash Jeroboam II. Death of Amaziah. 

887805 B. C. E. 

IT is a striking fact that Israelitish women, the 
appointed priestesses of chastity and morality, dis- 
played a special inclination for the immoral worship 
of Baal and Astarte. Maachah, the queen-mother in 
Judah, established an altar in Jerusalem for the wor- 
ship of idols; Jezebel had erected one in Samaria, 
and now Athaliah followed the same course in Jeru- 
salem. Yet, this was not Athaliah's sole nor her 
greatest sin. The daughter of Jezebel greatly sur- 
passed her mother in cruelty. The victims of Jeze- 
bel had been prophets, staunch adherents of the 
ancestral law, at all events, persons whom she con- 
sidered as her enemies. Athaliah, however, shed the 
blood of her own relations, and did not hesitate to 
destroy the family of her husband and her son. No 
sooner had she received tidings of the death of her 
son Ahaziah, than she ordered the soldiers devoted 
to her cause to execute all the surviving members of 
the house of David in Jerusalem. Only the young- 
est of the princes, Joash, who was not quite one year 
old, was saved from sharing the fate of his brothers 
by the special intervention of Jehoshebah. What did 
Jezebel's bloodthirsty daughter expect to accomplish 
by this massacre ? Was her wickedness the outcome 


of an ambitious scheme to gain possession of the 
throne, to the exclusion of all rivals ? Or did Atha- 
liah, herself a firm believer in the worship of Baal, 
desire to establish and diffuse this worship through- 
out Jerusalem and Judah, and was it in pursuance 
of that design that she destroyed the remnant of the 
house of David, in order to have her hands unfet- 
tered ? Did she hope to succeed where her mother 
had failed, and by establishing idolatrous practices in 
Jerusalem, to give new fervour to the Phoenician wor- 

Whatever motive actuated the worthy daughter of 
Ahab and Jezebel, Athaliah reduced the Judaeans to 
so complete a subservience to her will that no one 
dared oppose her evil courses. The nation and 
the priests bowed before her. Even the high priest, 
Jehoiada, who was connected with the royal house, 
kept silence. At the very time when Jehu was de- 
stroying those emblems of idolatry in Samaria, there 
was erected in Jerusalem an image of Baal, with 
altars and pointed pillars, and a high priest, named 
Mattan, with a number of subordinate priests, was 
appointed and installed. Did Athaliah leave the 
temple on Mount Moriah untouched and undese- 
crated ? It appears that she, less consistent in her 
daring and more timid than later sovereigns, did not 
venture to introduce an image of Baal into the sanc- 
tuary which Solomon had erected, but merely inhib- 
ited its use for divine services. The Carians, mercen- 
ary troops employed by Athaliah, and the old royal 
body-guard were placed at the entrance of the Tem- 
ple, to keep off the people. For this purpose, they 
were divided into three bodies, which by turns 
guarded the Temple from Sabbath to Sabbath. For 
six years (887-881) Athaliah governed the political 
and religious affairs of the nation, the more aristo- 
cratic of the Jewish families probably being of her 
party. Only the nearest relative of the royal family, 
the high priest Jehoiada, remained true to the an- 


cient teachings and to the house of David. His 
wife, Jehoshebah, was a daughter of King Jehoram 
of Judah, and the sister of the king Ahaziah who had 
been slain by Jehu. 

When Athaliah was ruthlessly killing the last rem- 
nants of the house of David, Jehoshebah rescued the 
youngest child of her brother from the massacre, and 
brought him and his nurse into the chamber in the 


Temple where the Levites slept. Here she secreted 
the royal infant for a considerable time, and reared 
him for his country. Athaliah troubled herself but 
little as to what was happening in the deserted Tem- 
ple, and the Aaronites and Levites, who remained 
faithful to Jehoiada, betrayed nothing. His very 
youth aroused their interest in the last descendant of 
the house of David. During the six years while 
Athaliah was ruling with absolute power in Jerusa- 
lem, Jehoiada did not remain idle, but entered into 
friendly relations with the chiefs of the Carians and 
the guards, gradually revealing the fact that a youth- 
ful prince was still in existence, to whom the throne 
of Judah by right belonged. He found them well 
disposed towards the royal house, and opposed to 
the usurper Athaliah. When he had convinced him- 
self of their sympathy with his views, he led them to 
the Temple, and showed them Joash, who - was then 
seven years of age. The soldiers having recognised 
in him the rightful heir to the throne, probably by 
his resemblance to the family of David, Jehoiada de- 
manded that the chiefs take the oath of fealty to the 
child. With their assistance he could hope to effect 
a revolution, and to restore the royal line. The 
chiefs could reckon on the blind obedience of their 
followers, and, accordingly, the plan of action was 
decided on, as well as the date for its execution. One 
Sabbath a division of the Carians then on guard 
went to their posts, whilst two-thirds occupied the 
entrance of the Temple. They had all received 
strict orders to kill any one who should cross the 


boundaries of the Temple courts with hostile inten- 
tions. As the prince was now secure from all attacks, 
Jehoiada also permitted the populace to enter the 
Temple courts. At a thrilling moment, when the 
Carians and guards stood with drawn swords, and 
whilst the chiefs held the weapons used by David, 
the high priest led the child Joash from the room in 
which he had been concealed, put the crown on his 
head, anointed him as king, and made him mount 
the pillar-like throne which had been brought into the 
courts of the Temple for the king's use. Amid 
trumpet blasts and clashing of arms, the people 
clapped their hands, and cried " Long live King 

Not until the noise from the Temple reached 
Athaliah's palace was she roused from the indiffer- 
ence and security which a belief in the fidelity of her 
paid troops had encouraged in her. She hurriedly 
repaired to the Temple, accompanied by a few atten- 
dants. There, to her terror, she beheld a young 
child with a crown on his head, surrounded by her 
troops, who were protecting him, and by a crowd of 
people shouting with delight. She found herself 
betrayed, rent her clothes, and cried, " Conspiracy, 
conspiracy!" Some of her captains immediately 
seized her, led her by a circuitous path out of the 
Temple courts to the eastern gates of the palace, and 
there killed her. Thus the last grandchild of the house 
of Omri perished as disgracefully as her mother had 
done. The close connection of Israel with lyre had 
brought no happiness to either kingdom. The 
mother and the daughter, Jezebel and Athaliah, 
resembled their goddess Astarte " the authoress of 
destruction, death, and ruin." Ahab's daughter does 
not appear to have had many adherents in Jerusalem 
in the hour of death she found no partisans. Her 
priests of Baal were powerless to help her, for they 
themselves perished, the victims of the nation's 
wrath. Jehoiada, having planned and effected the 


great revolution, now endeavoured to take precau- 
tions against a repetition of similar misfortunes in 
Jerusalem. He utilised the joyous and enthusiastic 
sentiments of the youthful king and the nation to 
remove all traces of the worship of Baal, and to 
arouse in all minds a faithful dependence on the God 
of their ancestors. He demanded of the king and 
the whole assembly a solemn promise to remain 
henceforth a people of God, to serve Him faithfully, 
and to worship no idol. The promise, which was 
uttered aloud by the king and the nation, was sealed 
by a covenant. The inhabitants of Jerusalem poured 
into the temple of Baal, which had been erected by 
Athaliah, destroyed the altars, trampled on the im- 
ages and all objects connected with idol-worship. 
The nation itself undertook to protect its own reli- 
gion. It was not till after the covenant had been 
ratified both by the young king and the nation, that 
Joash, triumphantly escorted by the guards, the sol- 
diers, and the multitude, was led from the Temple 
Mount into the palace, where he was placed on the 
throne of his fathers. Jerusalem was in a state of 
joyful excitement. The adherents of the late queen 
kept quiet, and did not dare damp the general 

It is remarkable that in the political and religious 

A <^ 

revolutions which followed each other in quick succes- 
sion in Samaria and Jerusalem, Elisha's helping hand 
was not felt. He had commissioned one of his dis- 
ciples to anoint Jehu as the ave'nger of the crimes of 
Omri's house, but he himself remained in the back- 
ground, not even presenting himself at the overthrow 
of Baal. He does* not appear to have had any inter- 
course with King Jehu, and still less did Elijah's chief 
disciple take any part in the fall of Athaliah and the 
overthrow of idolatry in Jerusalem. He seems to 
have occupied himself chiefly with the instruction of 
prophetic disciples, in order to keep alive the reli- 
gious ardour which Elijah had kindled. Elisha, how- 


ever, not, like his teacher, universally recognised 
as leader. He was reproached for not wearing long 
flowing hair, and thus creating the impression that he 
laid less stress on the Nazarite mode of life. Sons of 
prophetic disciples at Bethel jeered at him, and called 
him "Bald-head." Elisha also differed from his 
master in associating with his fellow-men, instead of 
passing his life in solitude as Elijah had done. It is 
true, that as long as the Omrides were in power, he 
remained on Mount Carmel, whence he came, accom- 
panied by his disciple Gehazi, to visit the prophetic 
schools in the Jordanic territories. But later on, he 
made Samaria his dwelling-place, and was known 
under the title of the " Prophet of Samaria." Through 
his friendly intercourse with men, he exercised a 
lasting influence on them, and imbued them with his 
beliefs. Men of note sought him to obtain his advice, 
and the people generally visited him on Sabbaths and 
New Moons. It was only in the kingdom of Judah 
and in Jerusalem that Elisha did not appear. Why 
did he avoid this territory ? Or, why have no records 
of his relations with it been preserved ? Was he not 
of the same disposition as the high priest Jehoiada, 
and had they not both the same end in view? It 
seems that the violent prophetic measures of Elijah 
and Elisha were not much appreciated in Jerusalem. 
Elijah had built an altar on Carmel, and had there 
offered up sacrifices; but though he did so in the 
name of the same God whose temple was in Jeru- 
salem, his conduct was doubtless not countenanced 
by the priesthood ; it was contrary to the law. And 
Elisha would hardly have been a welcome guest in 

There, attention was concentrated on the sanctuary 
and the law from the moment when Jehoiada had 
shown himself their strict guardian. The Temple had 
suffered injury under Athaliah. Not only had the 
golden covering of the cedar wood been in part 
destroyed, but entire blocks had been violently pulled 


out of the walls. It was therefore an important mat- 
ter for the young king Joash, at the beginning of his 
reign, to repair these damages, and Jehoiada impressed 
on him the necessity of this undertaking. The means, 
however, were wanting. Whatever treasure might 
have been in the Temple the accumulated offer- 
ings of former kings or of pious donors had, with- 
out doubt, been transferred by Athaliah to the house 
of Baal. The king therefore commanded the priests 
to collect money for effecting the necessary repairs, 
and bade them engage in this work with as much 
energy as though it were their own affair. Every 
Aaronite was to obtain contributions from his ac- 
quaintances, and out of the sums thus collected the 
expenses of repairing the Temple were to be defrayed. 
Whether it was that the moneys received were insuffi- 
cient, or that the priests used them for their own pur- 
poses, the repairs were for a long time not attempted. 
At length the king ordered the high priest Jehoiada 
(864) to enlist the interest of the nation in the work 
on hand. A chest with a slit in it was placed in the 
courtyard of the Temple, and into that chest all whom 
piety or generosity influenced might place a free-will 
offering, each according to his means, or he might 
give his contribution to the priests, who would deposit 
it in the chest. The gifts were liberal, and proved 
sufficient to procure materials, and to pay the masons 
and carpenters. Jehoiada raised the position of the 
high priest, which until then, even under the best 
kings, had been a subordinate one, to an equality with 
that of royalty. Had not the high priest, through his 
wisdom and energy, saved the kingdom ? Would not 
the last descendant of the house of David have been 
destroyed, if Jehoiada had not rescued him from the 
bloodthirsty Athaliah ? He could justly claim that the 
high priest should henceforth have an important voice 
in all matters of state. Jehoiada used his influence 
to secure due respect for the law, and to avoid a re- 
currence of the deplorable period of apostasy. But 


strife between the royal power and that of the priests 
was inevitable, for the former, from its very nature, 
was dependent on personal disposition, whilst the 
latter was based on established laws. During the 
lifetime of Jehoiada, to whom Joash owed everything, 
the contest did not break out. Joash may have been 
prompted by gratitude and respect to submit to the 
orders of the high priest, and when Jehoiada died, he 
paid him the honour of burial in the royal mausoleum 
in the city of David. 

After Jehoiada's death, however, a contest arose 
between his son and successor Zachariah and the 
king, which cost the former his life. The details have 
not reached us ; it has only been stated that at Joash's 
command some princes of Judah stoned the son of 
Jehoiada in the Temple courts, and that the young 
high priest, in his dying moments, exclaimed, "May 
God take account of this and avenge it!" 


In every other respect, the overthrow of the house 
of Omri, which had caused so many differences and 
quarrels in Samaria and Jerusalem, had resulted in 
the internal peace of both kingdoms. The present 
condition was tolerable, except that private altars still 
existed in the kingdom of Judah, and that the God of 
Israel was still worshipped under the form of a bull in 
the kingdom of the Ten Tribes. The worship of 
Baal was, however, banished from both kingdoms. 

From without, both lands were harassed by ene- 
mies. Jehu, the bold chief of horsemen, who had 
destroyed the house of Omri in Jezreel and Samaria, 
did not display the same energy against powerful for- 
eign enemies. Hazael, the Aramaean regicide, who 
was daring in warlike undertakings and eager for 
conquest, attacked the land of Israel with his troops, 
took the citadels by storm, burnt the houses, and 
spared neither children nor women. He also con- 
quered the towns on the other side of the Jordan. 
The entire district of Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben, 
from the mountains of Bashan to the Arnon, was 


snatched from the kingdom of the Ten Tribes. Many 
of the inhabitants were crushed to death under iron 
ploughshares ; the survivors were reduced to a state 
of semi-bondage. Jehu was not in a position to hold 
his ground against Hazael, perhaps because he also 
met with opposition from the king of Tyre, whose 
relatives and allies he had slain. 

Matters fared still worse under his son Jehoahaz 
(859-845). The land had been so hard pressed by 
Hazael and his son Ben-hadad, and the Israelites had 
been so reduced in strength, that their available 
forces consisted of but 10,000 infantry, fifty horse- 
soldiers, and ten war-chariots. From time to time 
the Aramaeans made inroads, carried off booty and 
captured prisoners, whom they treated and sold as 
slaves. Jehoahaz appears to have concluded a dis- 
graceful peace with the conqueror, to whose troops 
he granted free passage through his lands. There- 
upon Hazael overran the land of the Philistines with 
his warriors, and besieged and conquered the town 
of Gath. He then intended to advance against Jeru- 
salem, but Joash submitted without a stroke and 
bought peace. Either popular discontent was aroused 
by his cowardice, or he had in other ways caused 
disaffection; at all events, several nobles of Judah 
conspired against him, and two of them, Jozachar 
and Jehozabad, killed him in a house where he 
chanced to be staying. 

Joash, king of Israel (845-830), at last succeeded 
in gradually reducing the preponderance of the Ara- 
maean kingdom. Probably this was owing to the fact 
that the neighbouring kings of the Hittites (who 
dwelt on the Euphrates), as well as the king of 
Egypt' envious of the power of Damascus, took 
hostile positions towards Ben-hadad III. The latter, 
in order to weaken or destroy the kingdom of the 
Ten Tribes, laid close siege to the capital, Samaria, 
until all food was consumed, and the distress was so 
great that the head of an ass was sold for eighty 


shekels, and a load of dung, for fuel, for five shekels. 
Few of the war-horses survived, and these were so 
emaciated that they were incapacitated for service. 
The famine drove two women to such extremities 
that they determined to kill and eat their children. 
The Aramaeans, however, unexpectedly raised the 
siege and hurried away, leaving their tents, horses, 
asses, valuables and provisions behind them. The 
king, to whom this discovery was communicated by 
some half-starved lepers, was once more encouraged. 
He gave battle to Ben-hadad on three occasions, and 
defeated him in each combat. The king of Damascus 
saw himself compelled to make peace with the king 
of Israel, and to restore the towns which his father 
Hazael had taken from the territory of the Ten 
Tribes on the east side of the Jordan. 

The weakening of Syria of Damascus had a favour- 
able effect on the fortunes of Judah under king 
Amaziah (843-816). Damascus had accorded its 
protection to the petty commonwealths of Moab, 
Ammon, and Edom, which stood in hostile relations 
to Israel and Judah. Ben-hadad's humiliation set 
free Amaziah's hands, and enabled him to reconquer 
the former possessions of the house of David. The 
small territory of Edom had freed itself from vassal- 
age about half a century before. One of the Edomite 
kings had built a new capital on an eminence of 
Mount Seir. On chalk and porphyry rocks, it rose 
at a height of 4000 feet above the sea-level. A 
pathway led up to it from the valley below. In this 
mountain city (Petra), fifteen miles south of the Dead 
Sea, the Idumaeans hoped to remain secure from all 
attacks. Edom said proudly, " Who shall bring me 
down to the ground ? " Amaziah had the courage 
to attack the Idumaeans in their mountain fastnesses. 
A battle was fought in the salt valley, not far from 
the Dead Sea, where Amaziah caused great destruc- 
tion among the enemy, the survivors taking to flight, 
and leaving their fortress at his mercy. Having cap- 


tured it, he, for some unknown reason, changed its 
name to that of a Judaean city, " Jokthel." Doubt- 
less rich booty followed the successful campaign, for 
Edom was a country rich not only in flocks, but also 
in metals. Amaziah was not a little proud of his 
victory. But his pride led to his own ruin, and to 
the misfortune of his people. 

A peaceable understanding existed between Jehu 
and his successors, and the kingdom of Judah. Al- 
though no such formal alliance as between the Om- 
rides and Jehoshaphat had been concluded between 
them, yet they had a common interest in keeping 
down the adherents of the Baal-worship. 

Both kings, Jehoash (Joash) of Israel and Amaziah 
of Judah, were devoted to the ancient law. When 
executing judgment against the murderers of his 
father, Amaziah, contrary to the barbarous customs 
of his time, spared their sons an act of leniency 
which must not be underestimated. Most probably 
the high priest, or some other representative of the 
Law, had impressed on him that the religion of Israel 
forbids the infliction of suffering upon children for the 
sins of their fathers, or upon fathers for the sins of 
their children. 

In Israel, Jehoash evinced deep respect for the pro- 
phet Elisha, and followed his counsel in all important 
matters. When, after more than fifty years of activity 
(900-840), Elisha lay on his death-bed, the king vis- 
ited the prophet, lamented his approaching end, and 
called him the father and guardian of Israel. After 
Elisha's death, the king ordered Gehazi (Elisha's con- 
stant follower) to recount all the important deeds 
which the prophet had performed; and when the 
Shunamite woman, whom Gehazi mentioned in con- 
nection with the prophet's work, appeared before the 
king, accusing a man who, during her absence, had 
taken unlawful possession of her house and field : 
the mere fact that Elisha had once been interested in 
her, sufficed to induce the king to order her imme- 


diate reinstatement. Great, indeed, must have been 
the prophet's personal sway over his contemporaries, 
since the king submitted to his guidance. Elisha also 
gained a great triumph for the Law of God, though 
without any effort on his part. A prominent Gen- 
tile, the Syrian general Naaman, who was the inferior 
only of the king in the Aramaean country, voluntarily 
renounced the impious worship of Baal and Astarte, 
and acknowledged the God of Israel, because Elisha's 
ministry produced in him the conviction that only in 
Israel the true God was worshipped. He even car- 
ried with him earth from the land of Israel to Da- 
mascus, in order to erect his private altar, as it were, 
on holy ground. 

Meanwhile, although the desire existed in both 
kingdoms to free themselves from foreign influences, 
and to remain true to themselves, internal differences 
had already taken such deep root that it was impos- 
sible for them to pursue the same road. After the 
return of Amaziah from his conquest of the Edom- 
ites, he conceived the bold idea of proceeding with 
his army against the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, in 
order to re-conquer it. As a pretext, he appears to 
have demanded the daughter of the king of Israel 
as a bride for his son, intending to regard a refusal 
as a justification for war. Jehoash satirically replied, 
" The thorn-bush once said to the cedar of Lebanon, 
'Give thy daughter as a wife to my son'; thereupon 
the wild beasts of the Lebanon came forth, and trod 
down the thorn-bush. Because thou hast conquered 
Edom, thy heart grows proud. Guard thine honour, 
and remain at home. Why wilt thou plunge thyself 
into misfortune, that Judah may fall with thee ? " But 
Amaziah refused to yield, and sent his army to the 
borders of the kingdom of Israel. Jehoash, encour- 
aged by the victory he had just obtained over the 
Aramaeans, went forth to meet him. A battle was 
fought on the frontier at Beth-Shemesh, where the 
men of Judah sustained a considerable defeat, and 


fled. Amaziah himself was taken prisoner by the 
king of Israel. 

One must consider it an unusual act of leniency 
that Jehoash did not abuse his brilliant victory, and 
that he did not even actively follow it up. Could he 
not dethrone the captive Amaziah, declare the house 
of David to be extinct, and merge the kingdom of 
Judah into his own realm? This, however, he did 
not do, but contented himself with destroying the 
walls of Jerusalem, and ransacking the town, the 
palace, and the Temple. Jerusalem, which since then 
has been the scene of repeated devastations, was, 
for the first time since its foundation, captured and 
partly destroyed by a king of Israel. Jehoash mag- 
nanimously set the captured monarch at liberty, but 
demanded hostages. The moderation displayed by 
Jehoash was no doubt due to the influence of the 
prophet Elisha or his disciples. After the death of 
Jehoash (830), Amaziah reigned for fifteen years, but 
was not very successful in his undertakings. The 
power and extent of the Ephraimite kingdom, on the 
other hand, increased so rapidly that it seemed as 
though the times of David were about to return. 
Jeroboam II. possessed greater military abilities than 
any of those who had preceded him since the division 
of the kingdom, and fortune befriended him. He 
enjoyed a very long reign (830-769), during which 
he was enabled to fight many battles, and achieve 
various conquests. He appears first of all to have 
turned his arms against the Aramaeans. They were 
the worst enemies of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, 


and had kept up continuous attacks against it since 
the time of Ahab. The boundary of the kingdom of 
Israel extended from the road which led to Hamath, 
as far as the southeast river, which empties itself into 
the Red Sea. A prophet of this time, Jonah, the son 
of Amittai, from the town of Gath-Hepher, had encour- 
aged Jeroboam to make war against the Aramaeans. 
The king also seems to have conquered the district 


of Moab, and to have annexed it to the kingdom of 
the Ten Tribes. 

Amaziah's efforts, mean while, were impeded by the 
humiliation he had had to undergo. Jerusalem hav- 
ing been deprived of its fortifications, Amaziah could 
not undertake any war, and was well content to be 
left unmolested. He had promised not to repair the 
walls, and he had been obliged to leave hostages in 
the Israelitish capital as pledges of his good faith. 
The nobles and the nation in general had ample 
reason for discontent. Amaziah had injured the 
country by his presumption. It was through his 
rashness that Jerusalem was left defenceless against 
every hostile attack. The hostages, these vouchers 
for the continuance of his humiliation, doubtless 
belonged to the most respected families, and their 
forced exile helped to nourish the discontent of the 
nobles, which finally culminated in a conspiracy. A 
violent conflict arose in Jerusalem, the people either 
siding with the conspirators, or taking no part in the 
contest. Amaziah was helpless, and sought safety 
in flight. The conspirators, however, followed him 
to Lachish (about fifteen hours' journey southwest of 
Jerusalem, where he had taken refuge), and there 
killed him. He was the third king of the house of 
David who had fallen by the sword, and the second 
who had fallen at the hands of conspirators. 

After the death of Amaziah, Jerusalem and the 
kingdom of Judah experienced still greater misfor- 
tunes. The princes of Judah, who had dethroned 
and killed the king, do not appear to have resigned 
the reins of government which they had seized. 
Amaziah's only surviving son, Azariah (called also 
Uzziah), was a child of four or five years of age, and 
the land was surrounded by enemies. Advantage was 
taken of this helpless condition of the country by the 
Idumseans, who had been beaten and disgraced by 
Amaziah. They commenced an attack on the king- 
dom of Judah, and Egypt again espoused their cause, 


as it had done in the times of Rehoboam. Sangui- 
nary battles ensued, and the Idumseans took many 
prisoners. They pressed on to Jerusalem, where the 
breaches in the walls had not yet been repaired, and 
carried off numbers of captives,, There are no further 
particulars known of the attack of the Idumseans. 
Some domains seem to have been separated from 
Judah,and annexed to Edom and Egypt respectively. 
The rude warriors exchanged Judsean boys and girls 
for wine and prostitutes, and their new masters, chiefly 
Philistines, in turn sold them to the lonians, who at 
that time vied with the Phoenicians in the pursuit of 
slave-trading. The Tyrians, forgetful of their long- 
standing alliance with the house of David, behaved 
in no friendlier manner. This was the first dispersion 
of Judseans to distant lands, whither the lonians 
had sold them as slaves. It was probably these 
Jewish slaves who brought the first germs of higher 
morals and culture to the Western nations. Amongst 
the prisoners were many noble youths and beautiful 
maidens of Jerusalem, who, owing to their home 
influences, and their knowledge of the eventful history 
of their nation, carried with them a store of ideas, 
which they came to appreciate more now than they 
ever had done at home. 



Condition of Judah The Earthquake and the Famine Uzziah's Rule 
Overthrow of Neighbouring Powers Fortification of Jerusa- 
lem Navigation of the Red Sea Jeroboam's Prosperity The 
Sons of the Prophets Amos Prophetic Eloquence Joel's Pro- 
phecies Hosea foretells Ultimate Peace Denunciation of Uz- 
ziah Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem Last Years of Uzziah 
Contest between the King- and the High Priest Uzziah usurps 
the Priestly Functions Uzziah's Illness. 

805 758 B. c. E. 

AFTER the violent death of Amaziah, the kingdom of 
Judah or house of Jacob had become so excessively 
weakened, partly through internal dissensions and 
partly through foreign warfare, that it was a by-word 
among the nations. A contemporary prophet called 
it " the crumbling house of David," and oftentimes 
repeated, "Who will raise Jacob, seeing that he is so 
small?" And yet from out of this weakness and 
abasement Judah once more rose to such power that 
it inspired the neighbouring peoples with fear. First 
the internal dissensions had to be set at rest. The 
entire nation of Judah rose up against the nobles 
that had committed regicide a second time and cre- 
ated confusion. The young prince Azariah, or Uz- 
ziah, was made king. This king who was only 
seventeen years old, and who, like his contemporary, 
King Jeroboam, enjoyed a long reign possessed 
energy, determination and caution, which enabled 
him to restore the crumbling house of David. His 
first care was to transport the corpse of his father 
from Lachish, where it had been buried, to Jerusa- 
lem, where it was interred with the remains of the 
other kings of the house of David. Whether Uzziah 


punished the murderers of his father cannot be ascer- 
tained. He then proceeded to heal the wounds of 
his country, but the task was a difficult one, for he 
not only had to contend with enemies within the state 
itself and among the neighbouring nations, but also 
against untoward circumstances. The very forces of 
nature seemed to have conspired against the land, 
which was devastated by a succession of calamities 
calculated to reduce the staunchest heart to despair 
and apathy. In the first place, an earthquake oc- 
curred in Uzziah's time, which terrified the inhabi- 
tants of Palestine, who were unused to such occur- 
rences. The people took to flight, shrieking with 
terror, expecting every moment to be engulfed in an 
abyss beneath the quivering earth. The phenomena 
accompanying the earthquake increased their terror. 
The sun was hidden by a sudden, thick fog, which 
wrapped everything in darkness, and the lightning 
flashes which, from time time, illuminated it, added to 
the prevailing terror. The moon and stars appeared 
to have lost their light. The sea, stirred up in its 
depths, roared and thundered, and its deafening 
sound was heard far off. The terrors of the earth- 
quake were intensified when the people recalled the 
fact that a prophet, belonging to the kingdom of the 
Ten Tribes, had predicted the event two years before. 
The fulfilment of this awful prophecy filled all hearts 
with consternation ; the end of the world seemed at 

Hardly had this terror subsided when a fresh mis- 
fortune broke upon them. The periodical falls of rain 
failed, no dew quickened the fields, a prolonged 
drought parched all vegetation, the springs dried up, a 
scorching sun transformed the meadows and pasture 
lands into a desert, man and cattle thirsted for refresh- 
ment and food, whilst wild beasts wandered panting 
about in the forest thickets. Inhabitants of cities in 
which the water-supply was exhausted set out for the 
nearest place, hoping to find a supply there, but were 


unable to satisfy their thirst. The drought, affecting 
extended areas of land, reached also the lava districts 
of Hauran in northeastern Palestine, which are not 
unfrequently infested with swarms of locusts. In 
search of nourishment, these locusts now flew across 
the Jordan to the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, and 
devoured all that had not been withered by the dry 
rot. In heavy swarms which obscured the sun, they 
flew onward, and suddenly the vines, fig and pome- 
granate trees, the palms and the apple-trees were laid 
bare. These devastations by the locusts continued 
throughout several years. 

In the land of Judah, which had been brought to 
the verge of destruction by the reverses of war, the 
consternation was deep. It seemed as though God 
had deserted His heritage, people, country and Tem- 
ple, and had given them over to degradation and 
ruin. Public mourning and pilgrimages were insti- 
tuted in order to avert the evil. The prophet Joel, 
the son of Pethuel, exhorted the people publicly in 
these days of trouble, and was largely instrumental 
in raising their sinking courage. His stirring exhor- 
tations could not help leaving a deep impression. 
Their effect was especially felt when the destruction 
caused by the drought and the locusts ceased. Once 
more field and garden began to burst into blossom, 
the brooks and cisterns were filled, and scarcity was 
at an end. The young king immediately availed 
himself of this auspicious change, in order to chas- 
tise the enemies of Judah. He first turned his arms 
against the Idumaeans, who had laid his land waste. 
He defeated them, possibly because they were no 
longer aided by the Egyptians, and reduced Edom 
to subjection. The town of Elath, on the shore of 
the Red Sea, he re-annexed to Judah, and the mari- 
time trade with Arabia and Ophir (India) could thus 
be renewed. The Maonites or Minites, who occupied 
a small territory in Idumaea, around the city of Maon 
(Maan), were subjugated by Uzziah, and compelled 


to pay tribute. He punished the Philistines for their 
hostile attitude towards Judaea during his minority, 
when they had delivered over the Judaean refugees 
and emigrants to the Idumaeans. He conquered the 
towns of Gath, Ashdod, Jabneh, which lay nearest to 
the land of Judah, and razed their walls. In other 
portions of Philistia, which he annexed to his own 
territory, he erected fortified cities. 

He especially devoted himself to the task of forti- 
fying Jerusalem, which, owing to the destruction of 
400 yards of the northern wall at the time of the war 
between his father and Jehoash of Israel, could offer 
no resistance to an invading enemy. Uzziah, there- 
fore, had the northern wall rebuilt, and undoubtedly 
rendered it safer than before against attacks. He must 
have established friendly relations with Jeroboam II., 
or he would not have been able to commence the 
fortifications without risking a war. Uzziah had three 
towers built, each 150 yards in height, at the corner 
gate in the north, at the gate leading to the valley of 
Hinnom in the south, and at the gate Hananel ; on 
the gates and on the parapets of the walls were 
placed machines (Hishbonoth), by means of which 
heavy stones could be hurled to great distances. 
Uzziah, in general, displayed great energy in making 
warlike preparations, the warriors being provided 
with shields, armour and spears. He also employed 
cavalry and war-chariots, like those brought from 
Egypt in Solomon's time. 

Uzziah appears, in all respects, to have taken 
Solomon's kingdom as his model. The navigation 
of the Red Sea, from the harbour of Ailat, which 
Solomon had obtained from the Idumaeans, wasagain 
resumed, and great vessels (ships of Tarshish) were 
fitted out for the purpose. Altogether, Uzziah 
attained a position. of predominance over the neigh- 
bouring nations. 

The kingdom of the Ten Tribes, at the same time, 
became possessed of great power under Jeroboam 


II., who was as warlike as Uzziah. In the latter 
part of his long reign he was engaged in con- 
tinual warfare with the Syrians. He conquered the 
capital, Damascus, and pressed victoriously to the 
city of Hamath, which also fell before him. The nation- 
alities which inhabited the district from Lebanon to 
the Euphrates, and which till then had paid allegi- 
ance to the kingdom of Damascus, became tributary 
to the king of Israel in consequence of these victories. 
Jeroboam had no longer any rival in his vicinity to 
contest the supreme power with him. The Phoeni- 
cians had become considerably weakened through 
dissensions between the city of Tyre and the descen- 
dants of King Ethbaal. During Jeroboam's govern- 
ment a civil war appears to have broken out in Tyre, 
in consequence of which the whole of Phcenicialost the 
influential position which it had been occupying for 
a considerable time. The rich booty of war, and, 
perhaps, the renewed impulse to trade, brought 
wealth to the entire country of Samaria. Not only 
the king, but even the nobles and the wealthy classes, 
lived in luxury surpassing that of Solomon's time. 
King Jeroboam possessed a winter and a summer 
palace. Houses of broad-stone, adorned with ivory 
and furnished with ivory seats, became very common. 
In contemplating the increase of power in the two 
kingdoms, one might have been tempted to believe 
that the times of Solomon were not yet over, and 
that no change had occurred, except that two kings 
were ruling instead of one that no breach had ever 
taken place, or that the wounds once inflicted had 
been healed. Jeroboam and Uzziah appear to have 
lived on terms of perfect peace with one another. 
Israelites were permitted to make pilgrimages to 
Beersheba. No doubt some of them also visited the 
Temple in Jerusalem. But it . was only the last 
glimmer of a politically happy period. The corrup- 
tion which prosperity helped to develop in the 
kingdom of Judah, and still more conspicuously in the 


kingdom of the Ten Tribes, soon put an end to these 
happy days, and hastened the decadence of both 

In the latter, the bull-worship was not only con- 
tinued in Bethel and Dan, but even assumed greater 
proportions, when additional images of the bull were 
erected in Samaria and in Gilgal. Jeroboam appears to 
have elevated Bethel to the rank of a capital. Here 
the chief sanctuary was established. A sort of high 
priest, named Amaziah, ministered there, and appears 
to have been very jealous of his office. Unlike the 
Aaronites in Judah, he enjoyed a rich prebend in the 
possession of fields around Bethel. Either this per- 
verted form of worship was not yet low enough to sat- 
isfy the cravings of its devotees, or the voluptuousness 
consequent upon the accession of wealth may have 
demanded new departures; at all events, the hideous 
worship of Baal and the immoral cult of Astarte 
were again introduced. It is extraordinary that 
this idolatry, which had been extirpated with so 
much energy by Jehu, was again promoted, and re- 
ceived fresh encouragement under his grandson. 
The idolatry thus newly re-introduced brought in its 
train every species of wickedness and corruption. In 
order to gratify the senses, all thoughts were bent on 
acquiring riches. The wealthy made usury their 
business, and pursued their debtors with such severity 
as to make slaves of their impoverished debtors or 
their children. Usurious trade in corn was especially 
prevalent. In years of famine the rich opened their 
granaries, and sold the necessaries of life on credit, 
not always without employing false weights and 
measures; and when the poor were unable to return 
what had been lent to them, they heartlessly took 
their clothes or even their persons in pledge. When 
these unfortunates uttered their complaint against 
such injustice in the national assemblies, they found no 
ear to listen; for the judges were either themselves 
among the evil-doers, or had been bribed and made 


deaf to the voice of justice. The treasures thus ex- 
torted were wasted by their owners in daily revelry. 
The contemporary prophet Amos pictures in gloomy 
colours the debauched life of the rich and noble 
Israelites residing in the capitals in Jeroboam's time. 1 
The wives of the nobles followed the bad examples 
of their husbands, and urged them to be hard-hearted 
to the poor, demanding of them, "Bring, bring, and 
let us drink." 

The people itself could not, however, be so much 
influenced by the moral depravity of the nobles as to 
allow it to obtain full sway. Morality, justice and 
pure worship of God still had followers, who pro- 
tested more and more strongly against the vices 
practised by the great, and who, though in humble 
positions, knew how to obtain a hearing. Although 
almost a century had passed since the prophet Elijah, 
with flowing hair, declaimed against the sins of Ahab 
and Jezebel, the prophetic societies which he had 
founded still existed, and acted according to his 
spirit and with his energy. The young, who are gen- 
erally readier to receive ideal impressions, felt a 
disgust at the increasing moral ruin which came on 
them, and assembled round the prophetic disciples 
in Bethel, Gilgal and Jericho. The generation which 
Elisha had reared and taught adopted the external 
symbols of prophecy, pursuing the same abstentious 
mode of life, and wearing long-flowing hair; but 
they did not stop at such outward signs, but raised 
their voices against the religious errors, against lux- 
ury and immorality. Sons became the moral judges 
of their fathers. Youths gave up drinking wine, 
whilst the men revelled in the drinking places. The 
youthful troop of prophets took the place of the warn- 
ing voice of conscience. In the presence of king and 
nobles, they preached in the public assemblies against 
the worship of Baal, against immorality and the 

'Amos vi. 4-6. 


heartlessness of the great. Did their numbers shield 
them from persecution, or were there amongst the 
ranks of the prophets sons of the great, against whom 
it was impossible to proceed with severity ? Or was 
King Jeroboam more patient than the accursed Jeze- 
bel, who had slaughtered the prophets' disciples by 
hundreds? Or did he disregard and ignore their 
words? In any case, it is noteworthy that the zealous 
youths remained unharmed. The revellers merely 
compelled them to drink wine and forbade them to 
preach ; they derided the moral reformers who ex- 
posed their wrongdoings, but they did not persecute 

One of the prophets in the kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes made use of this freedom of speech ; he was 
the first of a succession of prophets who combined 
great and poetic thought with evenly flowing rhythm 
of diction, and made kings and grandees as well as 
the people wince under their incisive words of truth. 
It was Amos of Tekoa. Amos did not belong to the 
prophetic guild, he was no prophetic disciple, and 
probably neither wore a garment of haircloth, like 
Elijah, nor let his hair grow long, but was a simple 
herdsman and planter of sycamores. Whilst tending 
his herds, the prophetic spirit came mightily upon 
him, and he could not refrain from appearing in 
public. "God spake to him, and in him, how should 
he not prophesy?" The prophetic spirit urged him 
to repair to Bethel, and there, in the temporary capi- 
tal of King Jeroboam II. , he declaimed against the 
perversions and vices of the nobles, and opened 
their eyes to the consequences of their evil deeds. 
That a countryman, clad in shepherd's garb, dared 
speak publicly, could not help creating sensation in 
Bethel. A high degree of culture must have pre- 
vailed in those days in Samaria, when a shepherd was 
able to speak in beautiful, rhythmic utterances, and 
was understood, or at least expected to be under- 
stood, by the people. The speeches of Amos and 


those of his successors combine the eloquence and 
comprehensibility of prose with the metre and the 
rhythm of poetry. Metaphors and imagery lend ad- 
ditional solemnity to their diction. It is therefore 
difficult to decide whether these utterances should be 
classed as prose or as poetry. In place of a more suit- 
able description, they may be designated as beauti- 
fully formed poetic eloquence. The orations of 
Amos, however, did not fail to betray his station. 
He used similes taken from his shepherd life. They 
showed that, while tending his flocks, he often 
listened to the roaring of the lion, and studied the 
stars in his night-watches. But these peculiarities 
only lent a special charm to his speeches. Amos 
came to Bethel before the earthquake occurred, 
and he predicted the event in words of prophetic 
foresight. The earthquake thereupon followed, 
with all its accompanying terrors, and carried deso- 
lation everywhere. The subsequent plagues of 
drought, sterility, and locusts afflicted the kingdom 
of the Ten Tribes equally with the kingdom of Judah. 
Amos, and with him all right-minded people, expected 
that these visitations would effect a reiorm, putting 
an end to the hideous excesses of the wealthy and 
their cruel oppression and persecution of the poor. 
But no improvement took place, and Amos inveighed 
against the impenitent sinners in the severest terms. 
He reproved the men who ridiculed his prophetic 
utterances. He denounced those who, relying on 
their power or their piety or their nobility of descent, 
felt themselves unassailable. (Amos v. 4-15, vi. 1-8.) 
Against such daring speeches, directed even 
against the royal house, the high priest of Bethel, 
Amaziah, felt it his duty to take measures. Either 
from indifference or out of respect for the prophet, 
King Jeroboam seems hitherto to have allowed him 
unlimited sway; but even now, when Amaziah called 
his attention to the prophet's dangerous upbraidings, 
he appears to have remained unmoved. At all 


events, the prophet was not interfered with, except 
that the high priest, probably in the king's name, 
said to him, " Go thou, haste to Judah; eat thy bread 
and prophesy there, but in Bethel thou mayest not 
remain, for it is the sanctuary of the king, and the 
capital of the kingdom." Amos did not permit him- 
self to be interrupted in his preaching further than to 
say, "I am no prophet and no prophetic disciple, buc 
only a shepherd and planter; but the Lord spake 
unto me, ' Go, prophesy unto my people Israel. ' 
In the strongest language, he concluded with a 
threat of punishment. It is noteworthy that he did 
not protest against the evil deeds in Judah with the 
same energy, but rather displayed a certain leniency 
towards the kingdom governed by the house of 
David. He entered into no particulars concerning 
the sins which were rife there, but only spoke of 
them in general terms. He predicted a happy future 
for the kingdom of Judah, while predicting woe to 

"Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, 
and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth ; saving that I will 
not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord." 

When contemplating in his prophetic vision the new 
plagues which would descend upon the land, he in- 
terceded with prayer in behalf of Judah, exclaiming . 
" Lord God, cease, I beseech thee ; how shall Jacob 
rise, since he is so small?" (Amos vii. 2, 5.) 

The state of weakness into which Judah had fallen 
since the death of Amaziah, and from which it had 
not yet recovered in the first years of Uzziah's reign, 
filled the prophet Amos with compassion. He did 
not wish to discourage the nation and the court still 
further, but prophesied the future reunion of the tribes 
under the house of David. 

At this time another prophet arose in Jerusalem, 
named Joel, the son of Pethuel. Most of the prophets 
were of obscure origin, and returned to obscurity 


without leaving a trace of their individuality, which 
was entirely merged in their deeds or works. Joel 
appeared at a time when all minds had been terrified 
and driven into a condition of despair bordering on 
stupor, by the repeated attacks of the Idumseans and 
neighbouring nations, and the subsequent plagues 
of earthquake, drought and locusts. The inhabitants 
of Jerusalem and the country were wearing them- 
selves away in long fasts and lamentations ; they tore 
their garments as a sign of mourning, and assembled 
around the Temple with cries and supplications to 
avert Divine anger, and the priests were equally des- 
pondent. Joel, therefore, had a different task from 
that of Amos ; not to censure and blame the people 
was his mission, but to raise and cheer up the des- 
pondent, and to arouse those whom despair had 
stupefied. He did not openly denounce, but merely 
hinted at the sins and errors of the nation, alluding 
to the drunkards now left without wine, pointing to 
the external repentance which contented itself with 
torn garments and left the heart untouched, and 
scorning the popular notion that the Deity could not 
be appeased without sacrifices. Joel had to exert the 
whole power of his eloquence in order to convince the 
nation that God's mercy had not departed from them, 
thatZion was yet His holy mountain; that He would 
not deliver up His people to disgrace ; that He was 
long-suffering and full of mercy, and would relieve 
them from their misfortunes without their burnt-offer- 
ings and fasts. 

Joel's oratorical power was, perhaps, even greater 
than that of Amos. His highly coloured description 
of the ravages of the locusts and the accompanying 
calamities is a stirring picture; the reader feels him- 
self to be an eye-witness. The extant production of 
Joel's prophetic eloquence, with its rhythm and metre 
and even a certain strophic structure, also occupies 
the middle between poetry and prose. The only 
speech of his which has been preserved is divided 


into two halves ; in the one half he describes the mis- 
fortunes of the nation, blames their perverted ideas, 
and points out wherein their conversion must consist; 
and in the other, he seeks to fill their hearts with a 
joyous hope for the future. Joel endeavoured to 
carry his trembling, wailing and despondent hearers, 
who had collected on the Temple Mount, beyond the 
narrow boundaries of their present sorrow to a higher 
view of life. He told them that God had sent the 
plagues as forerunners of a time full of earnestness 
and awe, of a day great and fearful, destined to 
purify them and lead to a higher moral order. The 
sorrows of the present would pass away and be for- 
gotten. Then the great day of the Lord would dawn. 
Joel also predicted political changes, when the 
enslaved Jews of Judah and Jerusalem, whom 
Philistines and Tyrians had sold to the slave-trading 
lonians, who again on their part had scattered them far 
and wide, should again return. The peoples who had 
committed acts of cruelty would be severely punished 
in the Valley of Justice (Emek Jehoshaphat), where 
God would pronounce judgment on all nations. 
Then Egypt and Idumaea would become deserts, 
because they had shed the innocent blood of the 
Judaeans; but Judah and Jerusalem would be inhab- 
ited throughout all generations. Then a higher 
moral order would begin, and all creatures would be 
filled with the divine spirit of prophecy. 

" And it shall come to pass afterwards that I will pour out my 
spirit upon all flesh ; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, 
your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. 
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days 
will I pour out my spirit." (JOEL iii. 1-2.) 

The wish which has been attributed to Moses 
(Numbers xi. 29) will, according to Joel's prophecy, 
be realized at some future time. Not only Israelites 
born in the land, but also the strangers, who lived as 
slaves in their families, would have a share in this 


kingdom of God, and would become worthy of the 
gift of prophecy. Thus the prophetic vision began 
to roam beyond the national barriers. 

Hosea, son of Beeri, the third prophet of Jero- 
boam's and Uzziah's times, spoke yet more decidedly 
against the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, and in favour 
of the house of Jacob. Nothing is known of his life 
and actions ; we are not even told in which kingdom 
he delivered his speeches. It is, however, probable 
that the scene of his activity was Bethel or Samaria. 
Whilst Amos made moral corruption the main object 
of his rebuke and scorn, Hosea declaimed against 
the religious defection of the kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes, which had returned to the worship of Baal. 
He did not possess the wealth of expression nor the 
metrical evenness of his two contemporaries. His 
eloquence comes nearer the form of common prose; 
it is more amplified, more fluent, but also more arti- 
ficial ; it likes the interweaving of allegorical names, 
in which Hosea probably followed the style of the 
prophetic school from which he appears to have come. 
He started from one simile, which he applied in a 
twofold manner. He represented the introduction of 
the Baal worship in the Ten Tribes as the conduct 
of a faithless wife, and compared the future return of 
the people to God, which he predicted, to the return 
to the path of duty of a repentant and abashed adul- 
teress. This his theme he premised with an intro- 
duction. In a prophetic vision, he said, he received 
the command to take to himself an adulterous wife. 
Following this command, he married a woman of evil 
repute, who bore him three children a son, Jezreel, 
a daughter, whom he called " Unloved " (Lo-Rucha- 
mah), and a second son, named " Not-My-Nation " 
(Lo-Ammi). The prophet explained these meta- 
phorical names; thus, Jezreel meant two things in 
the first place, that God would visit on the house of 
Jehu the blood that their forefather had shed in 
Jezreel; and further, Jezreel denoted that God would 

CH. xil. HOSEA. 241 

destroy the armies of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel. 
The name of the daughter meant that God would 
no longer care for the house of Israel ; and, lastly, 
the name of the second son denoted that the God of 
Israel had deserted the nation, and would no longer 
be its God. After this introduction and its interpre- 
tation, the prophet began his address: 

" Contend with your mother, contend, 
For she is not my wife, 
And I am not her husband ; 
Let her put away her prostitution from her face, 
And her adulteries from her bosom." (HosEA ii. 4-6.) 

Then the prophet depicts the entire extent of the 
faithlessness of the house of Israel, that adulteress 
who pursues her lover (Baal), in the belief that her 
riches and her plenty had come from him, forget- 
ting that God had endowed her with the corn and 
wine, the silver and gold which she was wasting on 
the idol Baal ; God would therefore deprive her of 
everything, and not leave her even sufficient clothes 
to cover her body. In her need she would be over- 
come by repentance, and say, " I will return to my 
first love, for then it was better with me than now." 
The prophet then pictures the return of the faithless 
wife, who would remorsefully recognise the whole 
extent of her past wickedness, and, turning to her 
husband, would call him " My husband," for the 
name "lord "(Baal) would have become hateful to 
her. (Hosea ii.) 

Reconciled with his betrothed (the nation), the Lord 
would again show mercy to her, as in the days of the 
exodus from Egypt ; from the desert he would again 
lead her to her land, and she would once more sing 
psalms of praise as in the time of her youth, and in 
the days when she went forth from Egypt. The 
renewed covenant between her God and her would 
shield her from the wild beasts, and bow and sword 
and war would be no more. Jezreel, the ominous name, 
would receive an auspicious meaning {planted in the 


land]; the "Unloved" would be once more the 
" Beloved," and " Not-My-Nation " would again be- 
come " My-Nation " and would acknowledge his God. 

In unrolling a glowing picture of the future of the 
Ten Tribes, Hosea did not desire to mislead his 
hearers into the belief that such a time was close at 
hand. In a second oration, which has probably 
not been fully preserved, he predicts that many 
unhappy days would intervene before the return of 
the Ten Tribes and their expiation. This speech 
he also introduced with the account of a vision. 
God had commanded him again to take a much- 
beloved, yet faithless wife. She was not to bear 
him children, but he was to keep himself apart from 
her, nor permit her to associate with other men. 
This vision denoted that, though God loved the 
Israelitish nation, she had, forgetting all ties of 
honour and duty, given her love to other gods. And 
it denoted further, that the sons of Israel would re- 
main long without a king or a prince, without an 
altar or columns, without an ephod, as well as without 
house-gods (Teraphim) ; till at last, purified by severe 
trials, she would return to her God in the latter days. 
Hosea prophesied the total destruction of the kingdom 
of the Ten Tribes. On the other hand, he laid even 
more stress than his contemporaries on the continu- 
ance of the house of David and the kingdom of 
Judah, at the same time reproaching King Uzziah 
for the importance which he attached to his warlike 

Corruption in the one kingdom and misfortunes in 
the other brought from the hidden depths the pre- 
cious ore of prophetic eloquence, which was destined 
to obtain wide-reaching influence. The sins of Ahab 
and Jezebel aroused Elijah; the evil deeds of Jero- 
boam II. and his nobles drew Amos away from 
his flocks, and brought Hosea out of his quiet life 
into publicity, to communicate in a fascinating form 
the thoughts which possessed their souls. Their 


fears and hopes, their thoughts and convictions, 
became thenceforth the common property of the 
many whom they inspired and ennobled. Anxiously 
listening disciples of the prophet imprinted these 
prophetic lessons on their memories or recorded 
them in writing. They formed the first pages of 
that prophetic literature, which was destined to stir 
up the indolent nations of the earth. By picturing, 
though only in dim outlines, the prospect of a better 
future, the prophetic wizards, Amos, Hosea and Joel, 
have insured the permanence of the nation from 
which they sprung ; for a nation which looks confi- 
dently forward to a happy future is safe against 
destruction, and does not permit itself to be crushed 
by the most terrible trials of the present. One of 
these prophets Joel or Hosea pictured an ideal of 
the future, to which the noblest minds have clung, 
and to which they still hold fast. (Isaiah ii. 2-4.) 

That grand picture of everlasting peace to be 
founded on the teachings of Israel which will trans- 
form the deadly instruments of war into implements 
of life-giving labour, excels all works of art that will 
ever charm the eyes and hearts of mankind. The 
Israelitish prophets have predicted that this high 
morality of the nations of the earth will be the out- 
come of the law which will go forth to them from Zion. 

The hostile attitude which the two prophets of the 
kingdom of Israel assumed towards the house of 
Jehu was not without effect. Just as Elisha and his 
disciples raised up an enemy against the Omris, so 
were the attempts against the last of the Jehuides 
probably the outcome of Amos's and Hosea's fiery 

Jeroboam II. died in peace, at an advanced age 
and after a long and happy reign, but no sooner had 
his son Zechariah ascended the throne (769), than a 
conspiracy was formed against him. The ringleader 
was Shallum, son of Jabesh, who killed the fourth 
descendant of Jehu in Ibleam. Zechariah reigned 


only a few months. His murderer, following the 
example set by Jehu in dealing with the house of 
Ahab, destroyed the house of Jeroboam II., sparing 
neither women nor children. Shallum then went to 
Samaria t in order to take possession of the throne 
and kingdom, but he maintained his position only 
one month. A conspiracy was also instituted against 
him by Menahem, the son of Gadi, a former inhab- 
itant of the capital Tirzah. He proceeded towards 
Samaria, and was admitted into the capital without 
difficulty. He killed Shallum (768), but no doubt 
met with greater opposition than he expected. 
Although the capital opened its gates to him, other 
towns did not immediately submit. The town of 
Tiphsah (Tapuach) shut its doors against him. 
Menahem, however, was more daring than his pre- 
decessor, and united with his courage the utmost 
hardness of heart. *He laid siege to the rebellious 
city, and, having compelled it to surrender, he exe- 
cuted the entire population men, women, and chil- 
dren, not even sparing pregnant women. After this 
massacre he proceeded to Samaria, where he seized 
upon the throne of the Jehuides. A chief who dis- 
played cruelty such as this could hardly expect to 
win all hearts. Menahem appears to have abolished 
the worship of Baal. The worship of the bull, how- 
ever, was still continued. During his reign the fate 
of the Ten Tribes was influenced by a powerful 
kingdom which was destined to put an end to the 
house of Israel. 

If the better elements of that house might have felt 
inclined to follow the intimations of the prophet, and 
turn to the house of Judah for remedy, they met here 
with conditions equally repulsive. Internal dissen- 
sions broke out under Uzziah, which, it appears, were 
purposely ignored. Uzziah's aim was wholly and 
solely directed to military affairs the acquisition of 
bows, shields, and spears. Spiritual interests were 
far from his mind, or perhaps were even distasteful 


to him. To the Aaronides he undoubtedly gave fre- 
quent offence, the former harmony between royalty 
and priesthood having received a severe shock in the 
latter days of his grandfather Joash. Any endeavour 
on the part of the king to extend his sway over the 
Temple would have met with the opposition of the 
anointed high priests, whose authority rested on 
claims equal to those of the descendants of David. 
It is certain that in the latter years of Uzziah's 
government conflicts arose between him and the 
high priest Azariah, similar to those between King 
Joash and Zechariah. In order to deprive the high 
priest of his prestige, Uzziah took a bold step. 
He entered the sanctuary and began to light the 
incense-burner on the golden altar, an act which was 
the especial privilege and duty of the high priest. 
The indignation of the Aaronides ran high. The 
high priest, Azariah, who together with eighty priests 
hastened after the king into the sanctuary, angrily 
reproved him, saying, " It is not for thee, O Uzziah, 
to bring incense, but only for the anointed priest of 
Aaron's family. Leave the sanctuary : thou art 
guilty of desecration, and it will not be for thy honour 
from the Lord." 

What followed is wrapt in obscurity. Uzziah in 
the latter years of his reign was attacked by leprosy, 
and had to be kept in a special house for the rest of 
his days. The nation considered this illness as a 
divine punishment for his daring to perform the rites 
of the priesthood. 

In this contest between the sacerdotal and royal 
houses the former was triumphant, for it possessed 
the law as its weapon, and this was of greater avail 
than the sword. But another spiritual power was 
soon to enter the contest against the priesthood. 





King- Menahem The Babylonians and the Assyrians Pekah 
Jotham's reign Isaiah of Jerusalem His style and influence 
His first public address Later speeches Their immediate and 
permanent effect His disciples Their characteristics Zecha- 
riah His prophecies. 

758740 B. C. E. 

WHILE Uzziah was compelled by his disease to pass 
his last years in solitude, his youthful son Jotham 
managed the affairs of the kingdom. In the king- 
dom of the Ten Tribes, Menahem, the cruel usurper 
(768-758), was probably ruling with an iron hand. 
Both kingdoms continued in the same grooves, uncon- 
scious of the fact that in the distant horizon storm- 
laden clouds were gathering which would discharge 
themselves on them with fearful effect. From the 
north, from the districts of the Euphrates and Tigris, 
heavy trials were approaching for the people of both 

No sooner had the Assyrians extended their terri- 
tory in the north, east and west, than they turned 
their attention to the south. They intended, in the 
first place, to gain possession of the sea-coast of the 
Phoenicians, and thus obtain control over the wealth 
of that commercial nation. The next point in view 
was Egypt, the wealth and renown of which attracted 
their ambition. For the first time an Assyrian army 
appeared on Israelitish ground, when King Pul 
invaded Samaria. Kincr Menahem did not dare 


summon his forces against the mighty Assyrian hosts. 
The internal confusion must have crippled his powers 
to such an extent that he could not think of resist- 


ance. The curse of the regicide rested heavily on 
his head, but it pressed with equal, if not greater, 
severity on his nation. Menahem was hated by his 
people, for the cruel means by which he had obtained 
possession of the throne were ever fresh in their 
memories, and the friends of the murdered king 
nursed this hostile feeling. When Pul arrived on 
Israelitish ground, it appears that the enemies of 
Menahem suggested to the invader the advisability of 
dethroning the king. Menahem, meanwhile, betook 
himself to the Assyrian conqueror, and promised him 
a large sum of money on condition that his govern- 
ment was left secure. Pul accepted the money and 
retired from the country, carrying his booty and pris- 
oners with him. Menahem did not draw the money 
from his own treasury, but forced wealthy individuals 
to provide it. Each one had to pay what was at that 
time a heavy sum, viz., 50 shekels. 

Thus came the beginning of the end, and the fate 
which Amos had clearly predicted half a century 
before, appeared to be in process of realisation. He 
had said that a distant nation would carry off the 
Israelites to a foreign land beyond Damascus. The 
Israelites were in fact carried off to the region of the 
Tigris, or to some other division of the large Assyrian 
kingdom. The power of the kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes, however, remained to all appearance un- 
broken. It still numbered 60,000 wealthy men, who 
could pay large sums of tribute money. Menahem 
still had his cavalry, his war materials, and the fort- 
resses on which he thought he could place depend- 
ence. But, unknown to him, old age (as one of the 
prophets had rightly designated the national deca- 
dence) had now crept over the people. Menahem 
probably introduced the Assyrian mode of worship. 
One characteristic feature of this consisted in the 
adoration of Mylitta, the goddess of love, and the 
duties of her creed included the renunciation of virtue 
and the adoption of an immoral life. This innova- 


tion, added to the already existing internal dissen- 
sions, gradually sapped the foundations of the state. 
When the cruel Menahem died, and his son Pekahiah 
succeeded (757), the latter was able to retain the 
throne for scarcely two years. His own charioteer, 
Pekah, the son of Remaliah, headed a conspiracy 
against him, killed him in his palace in Samaria (756), 
and placed himself on the vacant throne. The mode 
of this regicide, the seventh which had occurred since 
the commencement of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, 
is wrapped in darkness ; it seems, however, that Pekah 
had to remove two other competitors before he could 
himself ascend the throne of Samaria. 

The son of Remaliah, the last king but one in 
Israel (755-736), was an inconsiderate and ruthless 
man, who oppressed the country to an even greater 
extent than his predecessors. He was characterised 
as a faithless shepherd, " who deserted his flock, who 
sought not the missing ones, who healed not the 
wounded, who tended not the sick, and who even 
devoured the flesh of the healthy." In order to pro- 
tect himself against the attacks of the Assyrians, he 
joined an alliance which the neighbouring princes had 
formed in order to resist the encroachments of the 
Assyrians. The plan probably originated in Da- 
mascus, which now once more owned a king, named 
Rezin, and which would be the first to suffer from 
the Assyrian conqueror. Judah was also drawn in. 
Uzziah, the king, having died in the leper's house, 
his son Jotham, who had ruled for many years as 
viceroy, assumed the title of king (754-740). Jotham 
had no very striking qualities. He was neither am- 
bitious nor statesmanlike, but he kept in the grooves 
in which his father had moved. Civic peace seems 
to have remained undisturbed; there is at least no 
account of any conflict between him and the high 
priest. The material condition of the country also 
remained the same as under Uzziah. There were 
the squadrons of cavalry, the war chariots, the ships 


of Tarshish which navigated the Red Sea, and wealth 
and splendour. Jotham also strengthened the fortifi- 
cations of Jerusalem. He maintained friendly rela- 
tions with the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, or rather 
with their king, Pekah, and there seems to have been 
a very intimate connection between the two sover- 
eigns. This friendship, however, as well as the rise 
of an ambitious nobility in Judah, exerted an injurious 
influence on the morals of the people, the evil being 
especially strong in the capital. Through circum- 
stances which cannot now be traced, some of the 
noble families had attained a height of power that 
exalted them almost to equality with the king. The 
princes of Judah led the councils, decided the most 
important affairs of state, usurped the powers of 
justice, and so thoroughly obscured the dignity of 
the house of David, that but a mere shadow of its 
authority remained. There existed a junior branch 
of the royal family, the house of Nathan, from which 
the superintendent of the palace seems always to 
have been chosen. This high official ruled court and 
attendants alike, and gradually attained to such power 
and influence, that he was considered the actual 
regent. He was known by the title of Manager of 
the Court (Sochen). 

Other evils arose out of these abuses. The 
princes of Judah sought to enrich themselves by all 
possible means, and to extend their territories by ob- 
taining possession of the pasture lands, vineyards, 
and meadows of the country people. Things seem 
to have come to such a pass that the nobles and 
elders employed slaves, or the poor whom they had 
reduced to slavery, to cultivate their vast estates. 
They did not hesitate to make serfs of the children 
of those poor who were unable to pay their debts, 
and force them to tread the mill. To this cruel injus- 
tice, they soon added the vices of debauchery. They 
arose early in the morning and had recourse to the 
wine-cup, and till late at night they inflamed their 


blood with wine. At such entertainments they had 
the noisy music of flutes, trumpets, harps, and lutes. 
This was an innocent amusement compared with the 
excesses resulting therefrom. But the severe morality 
enjoined by the Sinaitic law was hostile to dissipation. 
As long as this law held sway, the love of licentious 
pleasures could not be fully gratified. But this re- 
striction disappeared, when Judah entered into con- 
nection with the kingdom of the Ten Tribes. Here, 
and especially in the capital Samaria, the greatest 
excesses wore, so to say, a sacred character, forming, 
as they did, a constituent part of the Baal worship. 
Here there were temple priestesses in numbers; 
sacrifices were offered on the summits of the moun- 
tains and hills, whilst vice held its orgies in the shade 
of the oaks and terebinths. So great had been its 
progress, that Israelitish daughters unblushingly fol- 
lowed the example of their fathers. Wine and de- 
pravity had so vitiated the minds of the great, that 
they consulted blocks of wood and sticks as oracles 
concerning the future. From these nobles of the 
kingdom of the Ten Tribes, " the drunkards of 
Ephraim," the princes of Judah learnt how to follow 
their evil desires without restraint. Divine service 
in the Temple of Jerusalem was, it is true, officially 
recognised ; but this did not prevent the princes 
from following their own mode of worship privately. 
The brotherly fusion of Israel and Judah chiefly re- 
sulted in making idolatry, dissipation, intoxication, 
pride, and scorn of what was right, the common 
character of both kingdoms. 


However, depraved as the Israelitish and Judsean 
nobles had become, there existed a safeguard which 
prevented depravity from becoming an established 
institution of law. In Israel, injustice could never 
pass as public justice. Here there were men who 
loudly declaimed against the mockery of justice, and 
the degradation of the poor; men who defended jus- 
tice and morality as the only right course ; men who 


supported the weak against the mighty. Just at this 
period of degradation, while Jotham ruled in Judah 
and Pekah in Israel, several God-inspired men arose, 
who spoke with words of fire against the vices of the 
nobility. These men were the third generation of 
great prophets who succeeded Amos, Joel, and Hosea, 
as these had followed Elijah and Elisha. 

The most important amongst them was Isaiah, son 
of Amoz, from Jerusalem. With his contemporary 
prophets, Zechariah, Hosea II., and Micah II., he 
shared the courage which calls vice and crime by 
their right names, and which mercilessly brands the 
guilty. But he surpassed them and all his prede- 
cessors in depth of thought, beauty of rhythm, exal- 
tation of poetical expression, in the accuracy of his 
similes, and in the clearness of his prophetic vision. 
Isaiah's eloquence combined simplicity with beauty of 
speech, conciseness with intelligibility, biting irony 
with an inspiring flow of language. Of his private 
life but little is known. His wife was also gifted with 
prophetic insight. He wore the usual prophet's 
dress a garment of goat's hair. Like Elijah, he 
considered his prophetic task as the vocation of his 
life. His energies were entirely directed to exposing 
wickedness, to warning and exhorting the nation, and 
to holding before it the ideal of a future, to attain 
which it must strive with heart and soul. He gave 
his sons symbolical names, indicative of future events, 
to serve as signs and types. For more than forty 
years (755-710) he pursued his prophetic ministration 
with untiring zeal and unshaken courage. In critical 
moments, when all great and small, kings and 
princes despaired, his confidence never deserted 
him, but aroused the hope and courage of his people. 
Isaiah first appeared in the year of king Uzziah's 
death (755), when he was about thirty-three years of 
age. He announced to the nation (probably on the 
Temple Mount) the vision which he had been vouch- 
safed, and his election as a prophet. Isaiah's first 


speech was a short, simple communication of this 
vision, the deep meaning of which could not be mis- 
understood. He related that he had seen in a dream 
Jehovah Zebaoth on a high and exalted throne, sur- 
rounded by the winged seraphim. One seraph alter 
another cried, " Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah Zebaoth," 
with such thrilling voices that the very supports of 
the Temple trembled: 

" Then I said, Woe is me, for I am undone ; I am a man of unclean 
lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine 
eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts. 

" Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his 
hand, which he had taken with the tongs off the altar, and he touched 
therewith upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips ; 
thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged." 

In his first speech, Isaiah had but lightly touched 
on the sins of the nobles, only intimating that they 
were not alive to pure influences. In another speech, 
which has been preserved, he went into greater detail, 
and more especially held up a mirror to the princes 
of Judah wherein they might see their folly and sin. 
He described the ideal destiny of the people of 
Israel, of the Law which had been entrusted to it, and 
of the Temple which was to be its visible representa- 
tion, and he chose for his purpose the ever-memora- 
ble words of an older prophet : 

"For from Zion shall the law go forth, and the word of the Lord 
from Jerusalem." 

In this speech Isaiah touched the root of the evil 
which had produced that state of religious demorali- 
sation and heartless injustice which he denounced. 
It was pleasure-seeking and wantonness, encouraged 
by the women, to satisfy whom the men were con- 
tinually urged to commit depredations, and to pil- 
lage and enslave their weaker neighbours. With 
surprising force the prophet describes the love of 
display of the daughters of Zion. Leaving for a 


moment this sad picture, the speaker attunes a cheery > 
hope-inspiring strain : 

" The Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, 
and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the bright- 
ness of a flaming fire by night. For upon all the glory shall be a 
covering. There shall be a tabernacle for a shade in the daytime 
from the heat, and for refuge, and for a covert from tempest and from 

It may be questioned whether this masterly speech, 
perfect though it was in subject and form, made any 
impression for the moment. At all events it led to 
no lasting improvement, for Isaiah and contem- 
porary prophets had still often to preach against the 
same errors and the same sins. The nobles could 
not easily be converted ; they scorned and scoffed at 
the threats of an awful future. But Isaiah's pow- 
erful words have not been spoken in vain ; they have 
influenced people to whom they were not addressed ; 
they have been heard in distant lands, among distant 
nations, and in remote days. Isaiah did not con- 
tent himself with inveighing against sin; he depicted 
a moral ideal, through the realisation of which men 
would find happiness and contentment. " The king 
shall rule with justice, and cause the princes to govern 
according to right." "The king shall not judge after 
the sight of his eyes, and shall not decide after the 
hearing of his ears." Isaiah treated with great con- 
tempt the hypocrisy which praises God with the lips 
whilst the heart is far from Him. He scorned still more 
the offering of sacrifices combined with baseness of 
thought and wickedness of deed. (Isaiah xxix. 13; 
i. 11-14.) 

Isaiah appears to have used other means besides 
soul-stirring sermons, in order to heal the moral 
and religious ills of Judah. Adopting the measures 
of Elijah and Samuel, he assembled around him- 
self those who shared his principles, or instructed 
young men and imbued them with his spirit. From 
among those who had suffered from the injustice and 


tyranny of the nobles of Judah, he drew into his circle 
the thoughtful and susceptible, who became at once 
his disciples and his children. He did not instil into 
them impatient and impetuous zeal, but he impressed 
on them the virtues of gentleness, patience, and entire 
resignation to God. The members of the circle which 
he had collected around him were called the " gentle 
ones," or " the sufferers of the land " (Anavim, 
Anve-Arez). They were mostly either of poor family, 
or impoverished through the depredations of the 
nobles. They called themselves or were called " the 
poor" (Dallim, Ebionim). From Isaiah they learnt 
not to complain of poverty and spoliation, but to bear 
suffering and wrong with faith in God and His dis- 
pensations. These " gentle ones" formed a special 
community, to which they devoted all their heart and 
mind, and to which Isaiah and his successors looked 
forward as the national core and substance. They 
were expected to regenerate and purify the entire 
people. These poor Anavim were to become the 
popular models of virtue. The light shed by these 
great prophets cast beneficent rays around ; germs 
of thought, which lay hidden in the teachings of Sinai, 
came to light, and the spiritual rulership of the nation 
became established through them. Isaiah, therefore, 
forms a turning point in the national history of the 
people of Israel, as Samuel and, in a lesser degree, 
Elijah had done before him. Isaiah's prophetic view 
was not confined to his nation and country ; it passed 
beyond these boundaries to the two great states of 
Egypt and Assyria, which, like great cloud-masses, 
were soon to cast their electric flashes over Israel 
and Judah. 

Another prophet, named Zechariah, son of Bere- 
chiah, rose up against the continued perversions of 
the times. This prophet's oratory could not compare 
with the fiery and graceful eloquence of his contem- 
porary, Isaiah. He is wanting in power and contin- 
uity; he does not let thought follow thought in logical 




sequence, but passes without any perspicuous con- 
nection from one subject to another. The language 
of Zechariah, too, is poetically tinted and not without 
symmetry, but it lacks the scansion and other forms 
of poetry. Zechariah frequently employs the meta- 
phor of shepherd and flock, which he applies to the 
relation between king and people. He unrolls the 
picture of a glorious future, in order to lift the people 
up above the dispiriting present. He predicts that 
the neighbouring nations, who were hostile to Israel, 
the Aramaeans, Tyrians, and even the Philistines 
would acknowledge the God of Israel, and would be 
accepted as His chJMen i _when they have laid aside 
their evil deeds and tneTr^^lse pride. He also 
prophesies that God would make peace between the 
house of kidah and theXhouse of Ephraim, and that 
He would\brinor back thfcir exiles. Even though He 

\ .^^ ^^ 

had dispersed them amp^st tha nations, they would 
remember iHim Ln-^fneir banishment, and return to 
Him with their'children. The pride of Assyria would 
be humbled, the Egyptian $od be stayed. This dec- 
laration closed with thexfSrospect that of the entire 


nation only a thirdx^nould survive; but even this 
remnant would h^ve to pass through the refining 
crucible oftrtaTs in order to become worthy of its 
mission as the people of God. Zechariah made 
special allusions to Pekah, king of Israel, as the 
" false shepherd," who had treated his flock more 
ruthlessly than his predecessors. He relates how 
God appointed a shepherd over His people, and gave 
him two staves one named "Mercy," and the other 
" Concord." But the nation had rejected God, and 
therefore it had been rejected by God, who broke 
the staff of mercy, and annulled the covenant He had 
made with all the tribes of Israel ; and now He would 
break the second staff, the " staff of Concord," to 
annul the friendship between the tribes of Israel and 
Judah. God had placed over them a foolish shep- 
herd, who did not seek for the lambs that are lost 


who did not heal the wounded, and who devoured 
the flesh of the healthy ones. The nation, it is true, 
deserved no better guide ; nevertheless, the shepherd 
who had thus deserted his flock would surely incur 
the chastisement of God. 




The Reign of Ahaz His Character Alliance between Pekah and 
Rezin Tiglath-Pileser and Assyria Ahaz seeks Assyrian Aid- 
Isaiah's Opposition Defeat of Pekah and Rezin Introduction 
of Assyrian Worship Human Sacrifices The Second Micah 
Samaria after Pekah's Death Assyria and Egypt Hoshea 
Samaria taken by Shalmaneser The Exile Hezekiah His 
Early Measures His Weakness of Character Isaiah's Efforts 
to Restrain Hezekiah from War with Assyria Arrangements for 
the Defence Change of Policy Isaiah Predicts the Deliverance 
Micah Rabshakeh's Embassy Hezekiah's Defiance His 
Illness and Recovery The Destruction of Sennacherib's Army 
Merodach-baladan Hezekiah's Rule The Psalmists Death 
of Hezekiah. 

739696 B. c. E. 

THE bond of union which connected Judah and Israel, 
under Uzziah and Jotham, was snapped asunder on 
the death of the latter, and dissensions filled all 
minds. The cause of this can only be conjectured. 
The new king of Judah, Ahaz (739-725), who 
ascended the throne in his twenty-fifth year, was a 
weakling, with confused ideas, and by no means 
equal to his dangerous position. Important political 
complications occurred during his reign, in the meshes 
of which he became hopelessly entangled. Shortly 
after his accession to the throne he had to decide a 
question of great import, namely, whether or not to 
join the alliance formed by Pekah of Israel, Rezin, 
king of Damascus, and other less important con- 
federates. This alliance was formed to meet a two- 
fold danger. On the one side was Egypt, which 
had become powerful under King Sabako, and on 
the other side Assyria, which was also governed by 
a king ambitious of conquest, whose strong hand had 
reduced to subjection the refractory tributary states. 


After the death of King Pul, the last descendant 
of the royal house of the Derketades, an energetic 
king ascended the throne of Assyria, who not only 
reunited the crumbling kingdom, but gave it still 
greater power and extent; this was Tiglath-Pileser. 
After capturing and destroying the fortresses ol 
Mesopotamia, he turned towards the countries west- 
ward from the Euphrates and in the neighbourhood of 
Lebanon. He wished to complete the annexation 
of the kingdoms which Pul had subjugated. In 
order to oppose the Assyrian conqueror, Rezin, king 
of Aram-Damascus, formed an offensive and defensive 
alliance with Pekah, and was desirous of securing the 
co-operation of Ahaz. When the latter refused to 
join them, the two kings, united, it appears, with the 
Philistines and other neighbouring nations, prepared 
an attack upon Judah. 

The report of this plan occasioned great alarm in 
the house of David, and Ahaz then had recourse to 
a fatal step. He sent secret messengers to the 
Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser, and asked him for 
help against his enemies. At the same time he 
offered himself as a vassal, and his land as an Assy- 
rian province. This step might bring him momentary 
help, but could only endanger the whole future. 

Isaiah, with his prophetic insight, looked far into 
the future, and warned the king against acting 
rashly. Accompanied by his son Shear Jashub, he 
went to Ahaz, to the spot near the lake where he 
was supervising the work of fortification. He first 
tried to reassure the king in clear, yet eloquent 
language (Isaiah vii. 3-9). He then pointed out the 
evils which would result from an alliance with the 
Assyrian king (Ib. 17-25). From the near future, 
however, Isaiah's prophetic vision turned to more 
distant days. He sees the land, overrun by the 
Assyrian army, turned into a field of thorns and 
thistles, and dwells particularly on the devastation of 
the mountains covered with noble vineyards, which had 


become the cause of revelry and dissipation. Only 
the pasture lands were to remain, and every man 
would have to content himself with a young bull and 
two sheep ; but the land would once more flow with 
milk and honey, sufficient for the needs of the rem- 
nant of the nation (Shear-Jashub). 

Isaiah then reverted to the present time. He 
related how instructions had come to him to write in 
large letters in popular writ, " Quick booty, hasty 
plunder" (Maher Shalal, Chash Baz). He was to 
take the priest Uriah and the prophet Zechariah, the 
son of Berachiah, as witnesses to confirm his prophecy. 
Furthermore, when his wife, the prophetess, had 
borne to him a son, he had, in prophetic inspiration, 
bestowed on htm the significant name of Maher- 
Shalal-Chash-Baz, as a sign of the foreboding, " Be- 
fore the new-born son of the prophet shall have 
knowledge to call Father and Mother, the land of 
Damascus and the possessions of Samaria will be 
carried off by the king of Assyria." Isaiah then 
declaimed against the traitorous party which was 
secretly allied with the enemy (Ib. viii. 5-8). 

Ahaz, however, remained deaf to all these predic- 
tions. He had more confidence in Tiglath-Pileser 
than in the God of Israel, and thus fate took its 
course. No sooner did the news reach the Assyrian 
king that various nations and princes had formed an 
alliance against him, than he invaded their lands. 
Rezin consequently had to raise the siege of Jeru- 
salem, and hurry to the defence of his country. 
Pekah also had to think of his own safety, and 
Jerusalem was for the moment safe from both of the 
hostile kings. 

The latter could no longer avert the consequences 
of the steps they had taken. Tiglath-Pileser first 
besieged Damascus, captured it, took Rezin prisoner, 
and slew him. From Damascus the victor proceeded 
against the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, conquered 
the fastnesses of the mountain lands and of the marl- 


time as well as the Jordanic districts. Pekah does 
not appear even to have attempted any opposition, 
but to have submitted without resistance. Tiglath- 
Pileser therefore spared his life, but he carried off the 
inhabitants of the northern cities and those of the 
other side of the Jordan as prisoners (738). He dis- 
tributed them in various districts of the great Assy- 
rian empire. Thus the kingdom of Israel was de- 
prived of half its land and half its inhabitants. Its 
boundary on the north barely reached Mount Tabor, 
and this remnant became an appendage to the Assy- 
rian kingdom, bound to pay a yearly tribute and 
gifts of allegiance. Great, no doubt, was the discon- 
tent felt against Pekah, who had incurred these mis- 
fortunes through his cowardice; he was the foolish 
shepherd who had deserted his flock. This discon- 
tent ended in a conspiracy against him. Hoshea, the 
son of Elah, headed the plot, and killed Pekah (736), 
after he had ruled for two decades, and brought down 
misfortunes on his country. 

An important change also occurred at this period 
in the kingdom of Judah. Ahaz, in his timidity, had 
made himself the vassal of the king of Assyria, and 
had, therefore, to pay homage to Tiglath-Pileser. 
Instead of feeling humiliated, he was seized with 
admiration for the Assyrian customs, and determined 
to imitate them in his own country. He introduced 
the worship of the sun and stars in Jerusalem. The 
image of the sun-god was erected probably at the 
entrance of the Temple, and horses and chariots were 
dedicated to him. Ahaz outvied the king of Israel 
in idolatry. Other Assyrian influences made them- 
selves felt in Judah. The Assyrian language, which 
closely resembles that of the Aramaeans, was spoken 
by the courtiers to facilitate communication with their 
sovereign lord. Ahaz went beyond all bounds in 
his love of imitation. Once, when a misfortune befell 
him, he determined to sacrifice his own son in honour 
of Moloch, this cruel rite being part of the Assyrian 


creed. In the beautiful vale of Hinnom, or Ben 
Hinnom, at the southern extension of the valley of 
Kidron, where the spring of Siloah and other brooklets 
produce a magnificent vegetation, a fire-altar was 
erected. There, Ahaz, regardless of the heart- 
rending lamentations of his son, sacrificed the inno- 
cent child. 

The example of Ahaz was, as a matter of course, 
not without influence on others. The nobles of 
Judah, who had a decided preference for all that was 
foreign, because it allowed full sway to their passions, 
gladly welcomed this adoption of Assyrian customs. 
Favoured by the weakness of King Ahaz, they 
could indulge in sensual pleasures, and continue 
their acts of injustice towards the nation. The 
priests were also infected by the bad example. 
From motives either of selfishness or of fear, they 
passed over with silence, and even favoured the evil 
deeds of the king and the nobles. They preached for 
hire according to the wishes of the mighty nobles. 
One of these depraved priests appears to have 
asserted that the sacrifice of the first-born was not 
displeasing to the God of Israel, but that such offer- 
ings were acceptable to Him. The law of Moses 
which commanded the first-born to be sanctified to 
the Lord, was explained as an order to surrender 
them to the fire. Happily, there yet remained rep- 
resentatives of the ancient law in its purity, who 
raised their voices in powerful and eloquent protest 
against these crimes and depravities. A younger 
prophet of that time laid his finger on the gaping 
wound, and not only called the degeneracy by 
the right name, but also pointed out the source 
whence it had arisen. The second Micah of More- 
sheth, probably one of the disciples of Isaiah, shared 
with him the arduous task of appealing to the hearts 
of the sinners, and of making clear to them the 
indispensable results of their evil-doings. He prob- 
ably took up his dwelling-place in Jerusalem, but 


knowing the feelings prevalent in the country places 
and villages, he paid more attention to them than 
did the other prophets. 

In a speech uttered in the time of King Ahaz, 
Micah laid bare the prevalent religious and moral 
evils, and especially declaimed against human sacri- 
fices (Micah vi.). Notwithstanding all this, the evil 
spread further, and also attacked the healthy por- 
tions of the nation. False prophets, speaking in the 
name of the Lord, arose, who advocated crimes and 
vices in order to flatter the men in power. These 
false prophets spoke with eloquence they pretended 
to have had visions; they employed the prophetic 
mode of speech, and by these means brought about 
a terrible confusion of ideas. The nation was bewil- 
dered, and knew not which to believe its critics 
and censors, or its adulators and encomiasts. These 
evil days under King Ahaz were even more baneful 
than the six years of Athalia's government; they 
witnessed a king trampling the ancient law under 
foot, and introducing idolatry with its concomitant 
immorality and contempt of justice, nobles allow- 
ing their passions untrammelled license, and false 
prophets daring to speak in defence of those mis- 
deeds, while the prophets of truth and justice were 

But in the meantime political events took their 
course and gave rise to fresh complications. In 
the kingdom of Samaria, which since its separation 
from the eastern and northern districts, could no 
longer be called the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, 
wrongdoing and short-sightedness continued to pre- 
vail. The wounds inflicted by the Assyrians had not 
crushed the pride and selfishness of those in power. 
Defying the misery of the present, they said: " Dwell- 
ings of brick have fallen in ; we will erect buildings 
of stone. Sycamores have been hewn down ; well, 
let us plant cedars instead." In their drunken 
carousals the Ephraimitish nobles failed to perceive 


that the defeats which their country had suffered, 
unless followed by a manly revival of energies, 
were only the prelude to their complete destruction. 
In addition to this short-sightedness, or perhaps in 
consequence of it, anarchy set in. After Pekah's 
death at the hands of Hoshea, the ringleader of the 
conspirators, nine years elapsed, during which no king 
could maintain himself in power. Hoshea appears at 
first to have refused the crown of thorns, and there 
was no one else who could lay claim to sovereignty. 
From the time of Pul's interference with the Lebanon 
affairs and the destruction of the Aramsean kingdom 
by Tiglath-Pileser, war between Egypt and Assyria 
had become inevitable. The two empires, on the 
Nile and on the Tigris, watched each other suspic- 
iously, and prepared themselves for the final contest, 
through diplomatic movements and counter-move- 
ments, in which each endeavoured to strengthen itself 
and weaken the enemy by the acquisition of allies. 

Meanwhile the doom of Samaria was ripe for 
fulfilment. Was it from a knowledge of their 
weakness, or only a thoughtless whim, that her 
nobles finally recognised Hoshea the son of Elah, 
the murderer of King Pekah, as their king? This 
last king of Samaria (727-719) was better, or rather 
less bad than his predecessors. He was also war- 
like; yet he was unable to avert the impending 
destruction. He appears to have secretly entered 
into connections with Egypt, which continually duped 
him with false promises. At this time a warrior- 
king of Assyria, Shalmaneser, proceeded against 
Elulai, king of Tyre and Phoenicia, and subdued him. 
The Tyrian kingdom was not able to offer any re- 
sistance. On this occasion Shalmaneser directed his 
plans also against Samaria. Hoshea did not await 
his coming, but went to meet him, offering surrender 
and gifts of allegiance. But no sooner had the 
Assyrian king withdrawn than conspiracies were or- 
ganised against him. Hoshea commenced the se- 


cession by withdrawing the yearly tribute, and Phoe- 
nicia followed suit. 

Shalmaneser thereupon collected his troops, and 
crossing the Euphrates and Lebanon, proceeded first 
against the Phoenicians. At his approach, the na- 
tions lost all hope of liberty. The Phoenician towns 
of Zidon, Acre, and even the ancient capital of Tyre, 
surrendered, probably without attempting resistance. 
From Acre, Shalmaneser advanced to the Samaritan 
kingdom by way of the plain of Jezreel. The in- 
habitants of the Israelitish towns either submitted to 
the mighty king or fled to the capital. Hoshea, un- 
daunted by all these defections, continued his oppo- 
sition, though, as it appears, the expected or promised 
help from Egypt was withheld. The capital, Samaria, 
which lay on a hill-top, could, if properly in- 
trenched, hold out for some time. Meanwhile, Hoshea 
and the inhabitants of Samaria hoped for some un- 
looked-for event which might compel Shalmaneser 
to retreat. The walls, towers, and battlements of 
Samaria were therefore fortified, and rendered capa- 
ble of defence; provisions and water supplies were 
also collected, and all the preparations needed for 
the defence of a besieged city were made. But the 
Assyrians were masters in the art of attacking and 
capturing fortified cities. The attack and the defence 
must have been carried on with great energy and 
endurance, for the siege of Samaria lasted nearly three 
years (from the summer of 7 2 1 till the summer of 7 1 9). 
But all the exertions, the courage and the patience 
of the besieged proved fruitless. The capital of the 
kingdom of the Ten Tribes, after an existence of 
two hundred years, was taken by storm. The last 
king of that state, Hoshea, though he was probably 
caught fighting, was mercifully treated by his con- 
queror. He was stripped of his dignities, and kept 
in prison for the rest of his life. No pen has noted 
how many thousands perished in this last contest of 
the kingdom of Israel, or how many were carried off 


into banishment. So estranged was that kingdom 
from those who recorded the memorials of the Is- 
raelitish nation, that they devoted but few words to 
its decline. No lament resounded, as though the 
sad fate of the nation was a matter of indifference to 
the poets. The prediction of the prophets had been 
fulfilled. Ephraim was no more; the idols of Dan, 
Samaria, and other cities, wandered away to Nine- 
veh, and prisoners in thousands were carried off and 
dispersed. They were sent to colonise the thinly- 
populated territories the position of which is not 
precisely known in Halah and Habor, on the river 
Gozan, and in the towns of mountainous Media. 
The kingdom of the Ten Tribes, or Israel, had ex- 
isted for two centuries and a half; twenty kings had 
ruled over it; but in one day it disappeared, leaving 
no trace behind. Alienated from the source of 
its existence through the obstinacy of Ephraim, 
which disregarded the Law and its influences on 
national morality, liberty and political strength, it had 
fallen into idolatry and its attendant vices. The 
country vomited out the Ten Tribes, as it had 
vomited out the Canaanitish tribes. What has be- 
come of them ? They have been looked for and be- 
lieved to have been discovered in the distant East 
as well as the far West. Cheats and dreamers have 
claimed to be descended from them. But there can 
be no doubt that the Ten Tribes have been irretriev- 
ably lost among the nations. A few of them, such 
as agriculturists, vine-dressers, and shepherds may 
have remained in the country, and some, especially 
such as lived near the borders of Judah, may have 
taken refuge in that country. 

Thus the diseased limb, which had infected and 
paralyzed the entire body of the nation, was cut off 
and rendered harmless. The tribe of Ephraim, 
which on its first entry into the country had caused 
national disintegration through its selfishness, and 
which later on, owing to its haughtiness and self- 


seeking, brought on the weakening and final destruc- 
tion of a kingdom once occupying the position of an 
empire, was now lamenting in exile. " Thou hast 
chastised me, and I was chastised as an untamed 
calf. I was ashamed, yea, I am confounded, be- 
cause I bear the disgrace of my youth." (Jeremiah 
xxxi. 17, 1 8.) The body of the nation seemed to 
be healthier and more at ease after the removal 
of its unruly member. The tribes of Judah and 
Benjamin, with their dependencies of Simeon and 
Levi, which, since the downfall of the Ten Tribes, 
formed the people of Israel, or the " remnant of 
Israel," now rose to new power and developed 
fresh splendour. The destruction of Samaria, stun- 
ning as it was in its immediate effect on the remnant 
of the nation, served also a salutary purpose, inas- 
much as, for the moment at least, it induced the 
people to put aside the follies and sins which had 
contributed also to their degeneration and weak- 
ness. The people and the nobles were now no 
longer deaf to the exhortations of the prophets; 
Isaiah's prediction to erring Samaria that "the 
crown of pride on the head of the fat valley of the 
drunkards of Ephraim would be as an early ripe 
fig which is hastily devoured," (Isaiah xxviii. 1-4) 
being fulfilled, they could no longer refuse him a 
hearing. How little was wanting, and Jerusalem 
had shared the fate of Samaria! Its existence 
depended on a whim of the Assyrian conqueror. 
In Jerusalem the fear of national overthrow begot hu- 
mility, and a desire to listen to the words of those 
who would lead them in the right path. 

Fortunately a king now occupied the throne, the 
like of whom had not been known since the time of 
David. Hezekiah (724-696), the son of Ahaz, was 
the very opposite of his father. His gentle, poetical 
soul was filled with an ideal, which he beheld in his 
people's own law, in its ancient statutes and traditions. 
With the same eagerness with which his father had 

Ctt. XIV. SEZEKIAH. 267 

paid homage to foreign usages, Hezekiah was intent 
on the restoration of pristine Judaean morals, and the 
purification of religious conceptions and institutions. 
He accepted the Torah as the guide of his own life 
and of that of his nation. His were not only the vir- 
tues of justice, generosity and high-mindedness, but 
also those distinctions of character, which as a rule 
are foreign to crowned heads, gentleness, modesty, 
and humility, adorned him. He possessed that deep 
piety and pure fear of God which are as rarely met 
with as artistic perfection or military genius. 

Did the prophets early recognise this nobility of 
soul and heart in the young prince ? Or did their 
power of vision enable them to foresee the accession 
of a king on David's throne who would adorn it? 
Or was it through their early teaching and guidance 
that he grew up to become the ideal king that he 
was? Nevertheless it is a fact that two prophets 
predicted great and promising things of Hezekiah 
while he was still in his boyhood. 

During Ahaz's misrule, the prophets and that circle 
of "the Gentle" who composed the kernel and heart 
of the nation of Israel, turned their attention to the 
young prince, from whom they expected the restora- 
tion of the golden age enjoyed during the glorious 
days of David. Hezekiah had witnessed the sins of 
his father with pain, and bore testimony to the aver- 
sion he felt for them immediately after his father's 
death, inasmuch as he did not bury him in the hered- 
itary sepulchre of the house of David, but in a specially 
prepared tomb. Hezekiah expressed his convictions 
in a psalm composed on his accession to the throne, 
which may be considered a manifesto. (Ps. ci.) 

Hezekiah's reign, rich as it was in the manifestation 
of great virtues, in events of great import and in 
poetical creations, might have become a golden age 
had it not been that his wishes and plans were 
opposed by a barrier which he found it impossible 
to break down. Royalty had long ceased to have 


sole power in Judah. The overseer or superinten- 
dent of the palace (Sochen) had full power over the 
army and the officers of the court. He kept the 
king like a prisoner in his own apartments. In 
Hezekiah's time, the superintendent Shebna behaved 
as though he were the possessor of the throne and 
of sovereign power. In the beginning of his reign, 
however, the courtiers and those who were in office 
as judges or otherwise, not knowing his character or 
force of will, gave the young king free scope. During 
this time Hezekiah could carry his good resolves 
into effect, and in part introduce innovations, such 
as removing the idols, restoring the unity of wor- 
ship, and dismissing the most unworthy of the 
courtiers from the palace and filling their places 
with more deserving men. 

But it was no slight task to remove the accumulated 
evils of idolatry and long-continued immorality. The 
Temple was deserted, and the country was filled with 
idols and altars. Hezekiah reopened the sanctuary, 
and restored it to its former dignity. In order to root 
out the evils of idolatry, he ordained that altars should 
be no longer erected on the mountains and heights, 
not even for the worship of the God of Israel, but that 
all who felt a desire to show Him honour should 
repair to Jerusalem. This precaution appeared to 
many as a hardship and an infringement on ancient 
customs. But Hezekiah felt that he dared not 
spare local predilections if he wished to ensure a 
purification of the popular religion. When the 
spring festival approached, he commanded that the 
paschal lamb, which had hitherto been sacrificed on 
private altars, should be offered in the sanctuary at 
Jerusalem only. He, however, postponed the cele- 
bration of the feast from the usual month to the one 
following, probably because the season was not 
sufficiently advanced. Meanwhile the courtiers did 
not mean to leave the king to his own devices in his 
government. The inspector of the palace Shebna 


appears to have gradually wrested all power from 
him. Hezekiah was a poet, an idealist, weak and 
yielding, and possessed of but little firmness of will. 
Men with such a disposition can easily be led, and 
even kings will submit to a strong mind. Shal- 
maneser's invasion of Tyre and Samaria, which 
occurred in the first year of Hezekiah's reign, natur- 
ally aroused great alarm and fear at Jerusalem and 
at the court. It was necessary to take a firm 
decision either to join the allies, or to offer the 
Assyrian monarch pledges of loyalty. Hezekiah, 
from his peculiar character and mode of thought, 
was wavering as to the course he should take. Was 
it honourable to desert his fellow-tribesmen, who 
were bleeding to death under the three years' inva- 
sion of Samaria, and who, if conquered, could only 
have a most dismal fate? On the other hand, was it 
prudent to expose himself to the anger of the great 
monarch ? Hezekiah was perhaps glad that Shebna 
and his ministers relieved him of the trouble of 

In consequence of this want of harmony amongst 
the highest authorities of the country, Hezekiah's gov- 
ernment appears full of contrasts high-mindedness 
and meanness, moral improvement and degradation, 
pure faith in God and dependence on foreign aid; 
the king an ideal of justice, and his capital full of 
murderers. Not even in effecting the banishment 
of idolatry was Hezekiah successful. The nobles 
retained their silver and golden idols, and worshipped 
the handiwork of man ; in their gardens remained the 
statues of Astarte under the thickly-laden terebinth 
trees, planted for idolatrous purposes. This internal 
double policy, due to the powerlessness of the king 
and the obstinacy of the palace inspector and the 
nobles, exercised a bad influence on the foreign 
relations of the government. The Judaean states- 
men, after the fall of Samaria, followed a course of 
politics which would have been more wise and more 


honourable if it had been resolved upon earlier. They 
adopted the plan of breaking with Assyria and uniting 
themselves with Egypt. They took the same measures 
that Samaria had pursued a decade ago. They courted 
the aid of Egypt in order to obtain, if not an army, 
yet a sufficient number of horses to resist Assyria. 
The plan of rebelling against the sovereign power 
of Assyria was naturally developed in secret, for the 
premature report of their intentions might have led 
to great misfortunes. But, however secret their 
undertakings, the Judaean statesmen could not keep 
them concealed from public notice. They could not 
escape Isaiah's prophetic vision, and he exerted all his 
eloquence, in order, if possible, to prevent their rash 
proceedings. His most glorious, most thrilling 
speeches were made at this time of public anxiety. 
All the weapons of prophetic oratory description of 
the threatening evils, scorn of the blindness of the 
leaders, and exhortations and cheering prospects for 
the future all these he employed in order to win 
his obstinate countrymen from their undertakings. 
The most beautiful figures and most striking meta- 
phors, the most touching thoughts dropped from 
his lips in powerful eloquence. Isaiah's advice was 
that Judah should remain neutral in the hot con- 
test which was about to break out between Assyria 
and Egypt. 

Meanwhile matters took their course regardless of 
Isaiah's exhortations and advice. King Hezekiah 
(for all steps were taken in his name) gave up his 
allegiance to the Assyrians ; at least, he no longer 
sent tributary offerings to Nineveh, and the only result 
which could be expected followed. King Sennacherib 
collected a large army, with the intention of making 
an onslaught upon Judah as well as upon Egypt. 
Having subdued the intermediate lands of Aram, 
Phoenicia, Samaria and Philistia, the road to Egypt 
was paved and the obstacles in the way of direct at- 
tack removed. Judah prepared for defence. Her 


generals, feeling themselves too weak for open 
warfare, determined to occupy the mountain fast- 
nesses, and hoped to check the progress of the As- 
syrian troops until the arrival of their Egyptian 
allies. Jerusalem was fortified with especial care. 
The weak parts of the wall were repaired, the wall 
itself raised, and those houses which had been built 
too near the wall in consequence of the extension of 
the city, were pulled down. Around the old fortifica- 
tions of the town of David (Zion) and the lower 
town (Millo) a new outer wall, strengthened by 
towers, was erected. The upper lake, which was fed 
by the spring of Gihon, was closed up, and its water 
was conducted into the town by means of a subter- 
ranean canal. The aqueduct was also pulled down, 
in order to cut off the water supply of the enemy, 
and thus to make a protracted siege infeasible. The 
armoury, " the House of the Forest of Lebanon," 
was provided with instruments of warfare. 

Shebna, the lieutenant and inspector of the palace, 
appears to have been the moving spirit in all these 
arrangements. Both he and the princes of Judah, 
with their adherents, were of good courage, and 
without fear expected the advance of the Assyrians. 
In fact, excessive wantonness ruled in Jerusalem ; 
the evenings were spent in feasting; people ate and 
drank and made merry. As though impatient of 
the arrival of the enemy, they ascended the roofs of 
the houses in order to espy them. Isaiah could not 
allow such folly and daring to pass unreproved. In 
an exhortation, every word of which was of crush- 
ing force, he portrayed to the nation, or rather to 
the nobles, their thoughtless confidence (Isaiah xxii. 
1-14). Turning towards Shebna, he exclaimed, 
" What hast thou here ? and whom hast thou here 
that thou hast hewn out for thyself a sepulchre? 
. . . Behold, the Lord will thrust thee about with a 
mighty throw, O man ! . . . thou, disgrace of the 
house of thy lord! " (Ib. 16-25). 


This speech of Isaiah's, directed as it was against 
the most powerful man in Jerusalem, could not but 
have created a great sensation. It surely roused King 
Hezekiah from his contemplative and passive atti- 
tude, for soon after this we find Eliakim, son of Hil- 
kiah, occupying the post which Shebna had so long 
maintained. This new superintendent of the palace 
acted according to the advice of Isaiah, and Heze- 
kiah, through his means, appears to have been 
drawn into an active interest in public affairs. Sheb- 
na's fall initiated a change for the better. What had 
been done could not, however, be undone. The As- 
syrian monarch Sennacherib, filled with anger at 
Hezekiah's rebellion, was already on his way to 
Judah in order to devastate it. A part of his army, 
having crossed the Jordan, proceeded to the in- 
terior of the country. All fortified towns that lay 
on the way were taken by storm and destroyed, and 
the inhabitants fled weeping to the capital. The 
roads were laid desolate, no traveller could cross the 
country, for the enemy respected no man. The 
bravest lost courage whilst the enemy came ever 
nearer to the capital ; their daring was changed to 
despair. Every thought of resistance was aban- 
doned. But when all despaired, the prophet Isaiah re- 
mained steadfast, and inspired the faint-hearted with 
courage. In one of the open places of Jerusalem he 
delivered another of those orations, sublime in 
thought and perfect in form, such as have never 
flowed from other lips than his (Isaiah x.-5 xi. 10). 
He predicted to Assyria the frustration of her plans, 
and unrolled before Israel a glorious future which 
was to follow their deliverance from the threatening 
enemy. The scattered would return from the lands 
of their dispersion ; the exiles of the Ten Tribes 
would be re-united with Judah ; jealousy and enmity 
would appear no more ; the miracles of the time of 
the Exodus from Egypt would be repeated, and the 
nation once more raise its voice in inspired hymns, 


What marvellous strength of mind, what all-con- 
quering faith in God, in the ultimate victory of 
justice and the realisation of the ideal of everlasting 
peace, amidst the terror, devastation, and despair, 
and the deathlike gloom of the present! 

Sennacherib had marched his troops (then pro- 
ceeding to the attack on Egypt) through the Philis- 
tine lowland southward without turning towards Jeru- 
salem, while he himself put up his headquarters at 
Lachish, which was one of the most important of the 
provincial cities of Judah. He had no reason to be- 
siege the town of Jerusalem, fortified as it was by 
nature and human art. When the country was com- 
pletely conquered, the capital would be forced to 
surrender of itself. If this plan had succeeded, Jeru- 
salem would have suffered a fate similar to that of 
Samaria, and the few remaining tribes would have 
been carried off into captivity and scattered abroad, 
to be irretrievably lost amongst the various national- 
ities. In spite of this hopeless prospect, Isaiah held 
firm to the prediction that Judah would not fall. It 
would suffer under the dominion of Sennacherib, but 
these very sufferings would tend to the reformation 
of a part of the nation, if not of the whole of it. 

Isaiah was not the only prophet who, at this day 
of oppression and imminent destruction, held aloft 
the banner of hope, and predicted a glorious future 
for Israel, in which all the nations of the earth 
would take part. Micah spoke in a similar strain, 
though his speeches were not so artistic or striking. 
But amidst the din of battle he spoke yet more 
decidedly than Isaiah of the everlasting peace of the 
world, and thus endeavoured to raise the fallen 
hopes of Jerusalem (Micah iv.-v.). 

The actual present, however, formed a striking 
contrast to Isaiah's and Micah's high-soaring predic- 
tions of a most brilliant and noble future. King 
Hezekiah, seeing the distress of Jerusalem resulting 
from the subjection and devastation of the country, 


sent messengers to Sennacherib in Lachish, to ask 
pardon for his rebellion and give assurances of his 
submission. The Assyrian king demanded in the 
first place the immense sum of 300 khikars (talents) 
of silver, and 30 khikars of gold. Hezekiah suc- 
ceeded in collecting this sum, but he did it with a 
heavy heart, for he found himself obliged to remove 
the golden ornaments which adorned the temple. 
When Sennacherib had received this sum, he de- 
manded more unconditional surrender. In order 
to add weight to his demand, he sent a division 
of his army to Jerusalem. This detachment was 
stationed to the north-east of the city on the way 
to the upper lake, and made preparations for a 
siege. Before beginning it, however, the Assyrians 
summoned King Hezekiah to an interview. Rab- 
shakeh, one of the Assyrian officials, representing 
Sennacherib, spoke with as much disdain as if the 
conquest of Jerusalem were as easy as robbing a 
bird's nest. The Juclsean warriors stationed on the 
outer wall waited with great anxiety for the result of 
the interview. In order to daunt their courage, 
Rab-shakeh uttered his bold and daring speech in 
the Hebrew or Judsean tongue, in order that the 
listeners might understand him. When Hezekiah's 
officers requested Rab-shakeh to address them rather 
in the Aramaean language, he replied that he desired to 
speak in their own language, so that the warriors on 
the outer wall might understand him, and be disabused 
of Hezekiah's delusion. In order to win them to his 
side, Rab-shakeh called aloud to them that they should 
not be persuaded by Hezekiah into the belief that 
God would save them. Were the gods of those 
countries subdued by the Assyrians able to save their 
people ? Nor had the God of Israel been able even 
to rescue Samaria from the king of Assyria. Rab- 
shakeh openly demanded of the Judaean warriors 
that they should desert their king and acknowledge 
Sennacherib, and he would then lead them into a 


land as fruitful as that of Judah. The people and the 
warriors silently listened to those words. But when 
they became known in Jerusalem, they spread fear 
and consternation amongst all classes of the inhab- 
itants. Hezekiah, therefore, appointed a fast and a 
penitent procession to the Temple, to which he him- 
self repaired in mourning garments. Isaiah made use 
of this opportunity in order to appeal to the blinded 
princes of Judah, whose danger could not wean 
them from sin, and to impress on them that mere 
outward piety, such as sacrifices and fasts, was of 
no avail (Isaiah i.). The address he gave could 
not but have a crushing effect. Safety and rescue, 
said the prophet, could only be brought about by 
a thorough moral regeneration ; but how could 
this be effected in a moment? Rab-shakeh insisted 
on a decision, and the troops as well as the na- 
tion were disheartened. What if, in order to save 
their lives they opened the gates and admitted the 
enemy? All eyes were, therefore, turned on the 
prophet Isaiah. The king sent the highest digni- 
taries and the elders of the priests to him, that he 
might pray in behalf of the unworthy nation, and 
speak a word of comfort to the remnant of the people 
that was crowded together in Jerusalem. Isaiah's 
message was brief but reassuring. He exhorted the 
king to throw off his terror of the scornful victor, and 
predicted that Sennacherib, scared by some report, 
would raise the siege and return to his own country. 
This announcement appears to have pacified not 
only the king, but also the terror-stricken nation. 
Hezekiah then sent to Rab-shakeh a reply for which 
the latter was unprepared. He refused to surrender. 
How exasperated the great sovereign must have 
been when Rab-shakeh reported to him the decision 
of Hezekiah ! A petty prince, who had nothing left 
to him but his capital, had dared defy him! He 
immediately sent a messenger with a letter to Heze- 
kiah, in which he gave utterance to his contempt for 


the little state and for the God in whom Hezekiah 
trusted. He enumerated therein the fortresses which 
had been subdued by the Assyrians: " Have their 
gods been able to save them, and dost thou hope that 
confidence in thy God will save thee ? " 

The reply to this blasphemous epistle was dictated 
by Isaiah. In it he predicted that Sennacherib would 
return to his country in abject defeat, for God was 
not willing to give up the city. Before Rab-shakeh 
could bring the answer to Sennacherib, a change 
had already taken place. Tirhakah, the Ethiopian 
king of Egypt, who desired to prevent the advance 
of the Assyrians, went to meet them with a large 
army. Hearing of the advance of the Egyptian and 
Ethiopian troops, Sennacherib left his encampment 
in Lachish, collected his scattered forces, and pro- 
ceeded southward as far as the Egyptian frontier 
town, Pelusium, which he besieged. 

Hezekiah's despair at Sennacherib's blasphemous 
letter was calmed by Isaiah's prediction that the 
land would indeed suffer want in this and in the 
coming year, but after this it would once more regain 
its fertility; 'yea, the remnant of Judah would again t 
strike its root downward, and bear fruit upward, and 
this revival would proceed from Jerusalem ; but 
Sennacherib would not be permitted to direct even 
an arrow against Jerusalem.' Whilst the king and 
the nobles who believed in Isaiah's prophecy, gave 
themselves up to hope, looking upon the departure 
of the besieging troops from before Jerusalem as the 
beginning of the realisation of the prophetic predic- 
tion, an event occurred which roused fresh terror in 
Jerusalem. Hezekiah was afflicted with a virulent 
tumour, and was in such imminent danger that even 
Isaiah advised him to put his house in order and 
arrange for the succession, as he would not recover 
from his sickness. The death of the king, without 
heirs, in this stormy time, would have been a signal 
for disunion among the princes of Judah, and would 


have occasioned a civil war in the distressed capital. 
The nation was strongly attached to its gentle and 
noble king He was the very breath of its life ; and 
the prospect of losing him made him doubly dear to 
the inhabitants of Jerusalem. At this sorrowful pre- 
diction, Hezekiah, lying on his sick bed, turned his 
face to the wall, and tearfully prayed to God. Then 
Isaiah announced to him that his prayers had been 
heard, that God would send him health, and that on 
the third day he would repair to the Temple. By 
the application of soft figs the ulcer disappeared, and 
he became well again. On his recovery the king 
composed a heartfelt psalm of praise, which was 
probably sung in the Temple. (Isaiah xxxviii. 1 0-20.) 
The recovery of the king caused great rejoicing in 
Jerusalem; but it was not unmixed. Doubt and 
anxiety were still felt in the capital so long as Sen- 
nacherib's contest with Egypt remained unended. 
If he were victorious, the thrones of Judah and David 
would be lost. How long this war and the siege of 
Pelusium lasted is not certain. Suddenly the joyful 
news reached Jerusalem that Sennacherib with the 
remainder of his army was returning in hot haste to 
his country (711). What had happened to the 
numerous host? Nothing definite was known, and 
the scene of action lay far away. In Jerusalem it 
was related that a devouring pestilence or the Angel 
of Death had destroyed the entire Assyrian host, 
1 85,000 men. In Egypt, the priests related that a 
numberless swarm of field-mice had gnawed to pieces 
the quivers, bows, and trappings of the army till they 
were useless, and that the soldiers, deprived of their 
weapons, were obliged to take to flight. Whatever 
may have caused the destruction of the mighty host 
of Sennacherib, his contemporaries appear to have 
considered it as a miracle, and as a punishment sent 
to the Assyrian king for his pride and blasphemy. 
In Jerusalem the joy following on anxiety was in- 
creased by the fact that the prophet had repeatedly 


and, from the very commencement of the attack, 
predicted that the Assyrians would not cast one 
arrow against Jerusalem, and that Sennacherib would 
return on the way by which he had come without 
having effected his intentions. 

The exultation over their deliverance found vent 
in the hymns beautiful in form and thought 
which were composed by the Korahite Levites, and 
sung in the Temple. (Psalms xlvi. and Ixxvi.) 

Thus Jerusalem was delivered from the Assyrians. 
Isaiah's prediction thaf'Assur's yoke shall be removed 
from the shoulder of Judah" was fulfilled to the letter. 
The inhabitants of the country, part of whom had been 
shut up in the capital, and part of whom had fled for 
refuge to the neighbouring hollows and caves, now 
returned to their homes, and tilled the land in safety. 
All fear of the frowning eye of the Assyrian king 
having passed away, the Judaeans, whose territory was 
but small, could now seek out other dwelling places 
where they could settle down and spread. Heze- 
kiah's thoughts were not directed towards war; his 
was the mission of a prince of peace. It appears that 
the neighbouring people, indeed, called on him as an 
arbiter in their disputes, and that fugitives and per- 
secuted men sought protection with him. Although 
Judah could not be said to boast of victories under 
Hezekiah, it yet attained to an important position 
amongst the nations. 

After the defeat of Sennacherib, a king from dis- 
tant parts endeavoured to form an alliance with 
Judah. The king of Babylon, Merodach-baladan 
(Mardo-kempad), son of Baladan (721-710), sent 
an embassy with letters and presents to Hezekiah, 
ostensibly under the pretext of congratulating him 
on his recovery, but doubtless in order to form 
an alliance with him against their common foe. 
Hezekiah being naturally gratified at this sign of 
respect from a distant land, received the Baby- 
lonian embassy with the customary honours, and 


showed them his treasures. This manifestation of 
joy and pride displeased Isaiah, who prophesied injury 
to Judah from the land with which it was forming a 
treaty. The king received the reproof of the prophet 
with humility. 

The fifteen years of Hezekiah's reign after the 
downfall of the Assyrian kingdom was a golden age 
for the inner development of the remnant of Israel. 
They could dwell without disturbance under their 
vines and fig-trees. As in the days of David and 
Solomon, strangers immigrated into the happy region 
of Judah, where they were kindly received, and where 
they attached themselves to the people of Israel. 
The poor and the sorrow-stricken, the mourner and 
the outcast were the objects of the king's special care. 
He could now put into execution his heartfelt desire 
'to have the faithful of the land, the God-fearing and the 
true, to dwell with him in his palace.' The disciples of 
Isaiah, imbued as they were with their master's spirit, 
were the friends and advisers of Hezekiah, and were 
called " Hezekiah's people." 

The second part of Hezekiah's reign was altogether 
a time of happy inspiration for the poet The fairest 
blossoms of psalmody flourished at this period. Be- 
sides songs of thanksgiving and holy hymns which 
flowed from the lips of the Levites, probably written 
for use in the Temple, half-secular songs were dedi- 
cated in love and praise to King Hezekiah. On the 
occasion of his marriage with a beautiful maiden, 
whose charms had touched the king's heart, one 
of the Korahites composed a love-song. The two 
kinds of poetry, the peculiar property of the Hebrew 
people, which the literature of no other nation has 
paralleled, the poetical and rhythmical expression of 
prophetic eloquence and the psalm, reached their 
culmination under Hezekiah. The Proverbs, that 
third branch of Hebrew poetry, were not only 
collected, but also amplified by the poets of Hezekiah's 


Hezekiah ruled in quiet and peace until the end of 
his days. The defeat of Sennacherib had been so 
complete that he could not think of undertaking 
another expedition against Judah. Great joy was 
felt when Sennacherib, who had hurled such proud 
and blasphemous utterances at Israel's God and 
nation, was murdered by his own sons, Adrammelech 
and (Nergal-) Sharezer, in the temple of one of the 
Assyrian gods. Nothing is known of the last days 
of Hezekiah (696). He was the last king whose 
remains were interred in the royal mausoleum. The 
people, who were strongly attached to him, gave him 
a magnificent burial. It appears that he left an only 
son named Manasseh, whom his wife, Hephzi-bah, 
had borne to him after the close of the Assyrian war. 



Manasseh Fanatical Hatred of Hezekiah's Policy. Assyrian Wor- 
ship Introduced The Anavim Persecution of the Prophets 
Esarhaddon The Colonisation of Samaria Amon Josiah 
Huldah and Zephaniah Affairs in Assyria Regeneration of 
Judah under Josiah Repairing of the Temple Jeremiah The 
Book ot Deuteronomy Josiah's Passover Battle at Megiddo. 

695 608 B. C. E. 

IT was not destined that the Judsean nation should 
enjoy uninterrupted happiness for even a few 
generations. Its strength was tried by rapid changes 
from prosperity to misfortune. Close upon the 
power and unity of the second half of Hezekiah's 
reign came weakness and disintegration ; quiet and 
peace were followed by wild disturbances, and the 
spring-time of mental culture by a destructive drought. 
It is true that no disasters of a political nature dis- 
turbed the country under the rule of Hezekiah's suc- 
cessor, and what perils threatened the land from 
abroad, soon passed over. But at home, unfortunate 
circumstances arose which brought about a schism, 
and thus led to lasting weakness. What can be worse 
for a commonwealth than jealousy and hatred among 
its members, and the antipathy of the rural popula- 
tion to the capital? Such feelings arose under the 
government of Hezekiah's son, who, to the injury of 
the land, reigned for more than half a century (695- 
641). Manasseh's youth was in part the cause of 
this disaffection. 

Under the sway of a boy of twelve, whose gov- 
ernment lies in the hands of his servants, ambition, 
avarice, and even worse passions are apt to rule, un- 
less those in power are men of great moral worth, 


whose patriotism surpasses their self-love. The 
princes of the house of Judah had not, however, at- 
tained to this moral height. They were, in fact, filled 
with resentment at the neglect which they had suf- 
fered during Hezekiah's reign, and only anxious to 
regain their former position, by removing the in- 
truders and satisfying their vengeance. Courtiers 
and officers now came into power who seemed to 
find their chief occupation in reversing everything 
which had been introduced under Hezekiah. The 
order of things established by this king, whether it 
be defined as a restoration or an innovation, rested 
on the ancient Israelitish doctrines of the unity of 
God, of His incorporeality, of a rejection of all 
idolatry, and on a centralised worship. 

It was the aim of the fanatics who stood at the 
head of the government to overturn this system. 
An idolatrous faction was formed, which was not 
only influenced by force of habit, love of imitation, 
or misdirected religious feeling, but also by passion- 
ate hatred of all that appertained to the ancient Is- 
raelitish customs, and love for all that was foreign. 
At the head of this party were the princes, under 
whose influence and care the young king was placed. 
Not long after Manasseh's accession to the throne, 
the nobles, who acted in the king's name, proceeded 
with the innovations which they had planned. Their 
first step was to proclaim lawful the use of high 
altars, which Hezekiah had so strongly reprobated. 
They then introduced the wild orgies of idolatry 
into Jerusalem and the Temple. Not only the 
ancient Canaanitish, but also the Assyrian and Baby- 
lonian modes of worship became customary at the 
Temple, as if in scorn of the God of Israel. In the 
courts of the Temple, altars were erected to Baal and 
Astarte, and smaller altars on the roofs of houses 
in honour of the five planets. In the court of the 
Temple, a large image (Ssemel), probably of the 
Assyrian goddess Mylitta, was erected, as if to give 
offence to the God of Israel. 


More pernicious even than this wild medley of 
idolatry in itself, were its influences on morality. 
The profligate temple-servants and priestesses 
(Kedeshoth) of Astarte were provided with cells, 
where they led a wild and dissolute life. The pyre 
(Topheth) was once more raised in the beautiful vale 
of Ben-Hinnom, where tender children were cast into 
the fire as offerings to Moloch to avert calamity. 
Everything was done to cause the memory of the 
God of Israel to fall into oblivion. The faction of 
idolaters persuaded themselves and others that God 
had become powerless, and that He could neither 
bring them good nor bad fortune. The desire of 
imitation had no mean share in this religious and 
moral perversion. Habit and compulsion exercised 
on the disaffected soon spread the evil, which pro- 
ceeded from the court and the prince till it extended 
over the whole land. The priests of the family of 
Aaron were probably at first unwilling to participate 
in this secession from the God of Israel. Idolatrous 
priests (Khemarim) were therefore brought into the 
country, who, as in the days of Jezebel and Athaliah, 
were permitted to take part in the service of the 
Temple. Nor were false prophets wanting to lend 
their voices to these abominations. What cause, 
however bad, if enjoying the favour of the great, has 
not found eloquent tongues to shield, justify, or even 
recommend it as the only true and good one ? This 
state of things, if unopposed, would have led to the 
utter oblivion of all the past, and to the destruction 
of the nation which was to bring blessings to the 
entire human race. 

Happily there existed in Jerusalem a strong party 
who respected the law so despised and scoffed at by 
the court faction. These formed a striking contrast 
to the representatives of idolatry, and were deter- 
mined to seal their convictions even with their blood. 
These " disciples of the Lord," whom Isaiah had 
taught and educated as his own children, were the 


long-suffering Anavim, small in numbers and low in 
rank, whose determination, however, rendered them 
a strong power. They may be called the Anavites 
or prophetic party ; they called themselves " the com- 
munity of the upright " (Sod Jescharim w* Edah\ 
This community was subjected to many hard trials 
through the change under Manasseh. The least of 
their troubles was that the men whom Hezekiah had 
placed as judges and officers of state were turned 
out of their positions by the court party, and that 
Aaronides, of the family of Zadok the high-priest, 
who refused to take part in the idolatrous worship, 
were dismissed from the Temple, and deprived of 
their incomes from sacrifices and gifts. Prophets 
raised their voices in denunciation of these crimes, 
and other members of this community manifested 
their horror at the daring of the court party; but 
Manasseh and the princes of Judah did not stop shorl 
of any crime, and, like the abhorred Jezebel, drowned 
the voices of the prophets in blood. The prophetic 
utterances of this period have not been preserved ; 
the zealous men of God had no time to write them 
down. A violent death overtook them before they 
could seize the pencil, or they were obliged to hide 
their thoughts in veiled language. As though these 
sad times were doomed to be forgotten, the his- 
torians have noted down but little of public interest. 
An event of great import to Judaea occurred during 
Manasseh's reign, and the books of history have 
given but slight or no account of it. 

One of the sons of Sennacherib, whose parricidal 
act destroyed the proud conqueror in the temple, 
had placed himself on the tottering throne of Nineveh. 
He also died a violent death at the hand of his 
brother Esarhaddon. Esarhaddon (680-668) utilised 
the confusion and civil war which had broken our 
in Babylonia, to reduce that old mother-country to a 
mere dependence on Assyria. Thus strengthened 
Esarhaddon commenced a war with Egypt, the con 


quest of which his father had been obliged to relin- 
quish. Some of his generals appear to have landed 
on the Judsean coast, in order to effect Manasseh's 
subjection by means of threats. Manasseh went to 
him to secure a fair peace, but, as is related, he was 
made a captive, and led in chains to Babylon. It 
was a bad omen for the house of David, which had 
become faithless to its origin, and had shown a blind 
love of the stranger. 

Sennacherib's son is supposed to have sent the 
prisoners of the countries he had subdued, such as 
Babylon, Cuthah, Sepharvaim, and Hamath,to Samaria 
in order to colonise it. This event, which, at the time, 
seemed without significance to Judaea, was destined to 
be important in the future. These exiles, who were 
called Cuthaeans, from their origin, and Samaritans, 
from their dwelling-places, gradually adopted Israel- 
itish customs, probably from the small remnant of 
Israelites who remained after the destruction of the 
kingdom of the Ten Tribes. The Cuthaeans made 
pilgrimages to the holy places of Bethel, where 
Israelitish priests performed the service. They, how- 
ever, continued to worship idols, and some of them 
sacrificed human beings. 

Manasseh himself was delivered from captivity, and 
sent back to his country by Esarhaddon or his suc- 
cessor ; but his character had not improved. Idola- 
trous worship and the unfortunate conditions brought 
about by immorality and cruel persecution lasted 
until his death. When he died (641), he was not 
buried in the city of David, as his predecessors had 
been, but in the garden of Uzza, attached to the royal 
palace in the suburb of Millo. He had himself 
selected this spot for his tomb, and had thereby 
tacitly acknowledged himself unworthy to rest in the 
grave of his forefather David. 

He was succeeded by his eldest son Amon (640- 
639), who, although older than his father had been 
at his accession, yet appears to have had no more 


aptitude for reigning than his predecessor. The idola- 
trous aberrations, which had brought with them con- 
sequences so injurious to morality in his father's reign, 
continued under his rule, but, unlike his father, he 
does not appear to have persecuted the prophet 
party. However, he reigned for so short a time that 
but little is known of him, his deeds or sentiments. 
His servants that is to say, the captain of the palace 
and the chief courtiers around him conspired against 
him, and killed him in his own palace (639). The 
nation appears to have loved Amon, for the people 
rose in rebellion against the conspirators, killed 
them, and placed Amon's son Josiah, who was eight 
years of age, on the throne (638-608). This change 
of rule was not immediately felt. The nobles and 
princes of Judah continued to govern in the name of 
the king during his minority, and maintained the 
innovations of Manasseh, which they sought to es- 
tablish firmly. 

But the number of 'the sufferers of the land,' who 
clung to the precepts of the God of Israel, increased 
daily, and these formed themselves into an active body. 
From this circle various prophets arose under Josiah. 
They lent their words of fire to the promulgation of 
the pure doctrines of God, and opened their lips in the 
cause of right, and endeavoured to bring about a 
better state of things. A prophetess named Huldah 
also arose at this time, and her counsel, like that 
of Deborah, was much sought after. Zephaniah 
was the eldest of the later prophets. He was de- 
scended from a respected family in Jerusalem, whose 
forefathers were known as far back as the fourth 
generation. He openly declaimed against the weak- 
ness, the moral degradation, and the idolatrous 
ways of his contemporaries, particularly of the 
nobles and princes, who took pride in the imitation 
of all foreign customs. Like the older prophets, 
Amos and Joel, he predicted the advent of " a terrible 
day of the Lord, a day of darkness and obscurity.' 1 


In his prophecies concerning other nations, he espec- 
ially predicted the total destruction of the proud 
city of Nineveh. 

At this time commenced the gradual decadence of 
Assyria's power. The nations which had remained 
faithful to Assyria now separated themselves from 
the last but one of the Assyrian kings (Samuges ?), 
or were compelled by the Medes to renounce their 
allegiance. The second king of Media, Phraortes 
(Fravartch), subdued nation after nation, including 
the Persians, and in conjunction with these he under- 
took a campaign against Nineveh. The Assyrians, 
though deserted by their allies, were yet sufficiently 
strong and warlike to effect the defeat of the Median 
host (635), when Phraortes was killed. But his son 
Cyaxares, who was even more daring and adventurous 
than his father, hastened to avenge the latter, col- 
lected a large army, which he divided according to 
the armour of the various bodies, attacked Assyria, 
defeated its army, and advanced upon Nineveh (634). 
But an invasion of Media by countless hordes of 
Scythians forced him to raise the siege of the Assy- 
rian capital. Unable to cope with them in battle, he 
bought release at the price of an enormous tribute. 
The Assyrians were compelled to follow a like course. 
Turning westward, the Scythians reached Phoenicia, 
and, advancing along the coast of Philistia, soon 
stood threatening before the gates of Egypt. Here 
King Psammetich met them with rich gifts, and 
through earnest entreaties prevailed upon them to 
desist from their intended invasion. Thereupon a 
great number of them went to the north, while others 
threw themselves on Asia Minor. A number of them 
remained in Philistia, overran the country, and burnt 
the temple of Mylitta, the Assyrian goddess of de- 
bauchery. The Scythians swarmed from Philistia into 
the neighbouring country of Judaea, ravaged the land, 
carried off the cattle, and burnt the cities and villages. 
They appear, however, not to have entered Jeru- 


salem. No doubt the youthful king Josiah, with the 
steward of his palace, went to meet them, and 
induced them by the surrender of treasures to spare 
the capital. 

This time of terror, when reports of the destruction 
of towns and the cruel murder of men were constantly 
reaching the ears of the people, made a deep impres- 
sion on the inhabitants of Judah. Where the pre- 
dictions of the prophets had fallen upon deaf ears, 
their actual fulfilment proved the folly of idolatrous 
worship. Had the gods of Assyria, Babylon, Phoe- 
nicia, or Philistia been able to save their people 
from the violent attack of the Scythians? A change 
of sentiment now came over the inhabitants of Jeru- 
salem, and the soul of King Josiah was deeply 
touched. He was gentle, pious, and susceptible by 
nature ; only from habit had he devoted himself to 
the follies of idolatry, without entirely yielding to 
the malpractices of the times. The significant 
occurrences now taking place showed him that he 
and his nation were wandering in crooked paths. 
He did not venture, however, when he had come 
to this conclusion, to cast out from the capital of 
his kingdom the idol-worship which had been in- 
troduced during his grandfather's reign, half a cen- 
tury before. He did not dare arouse the princes 
of Judah, who held the reins of power, and who 
were strongly attached to idolatry. This would 
have required heroic decision, and Josiah could not 
bring himself to act with the required strength of 
purpose. It was, therefore, necessary for some one 
to urge him to action, and to the assertion of his 
royal power over those who surrounded him. The 
prophetic party undertook the work of inducing 
Josiah to return to the service of God, and to 
put aside all foreign worship. However he only 
took measures calculated to rescue the holy Temple 
of the Lord from its deserted state and the decay into 
which it was falling. The walls, halls and outbuild- 


ings of the Temple were cracking, and threatened to 
fall, and the decorations had been disfigured. Josiah 
took measures to prevent at least this outward decay. 
He recalled the exiled priests and Levites to the 
service of the Temple (627), and commanded them 
to collect contributions for the renovation of the 
Temple. At their head he placed the high-priest 
Hilkiah, whose house had not been polluted by the 
impurities of idol-worship. But whence were the 
means to be derived? The love of the rich for their 
Temple had grown so cold, or the nation had become 
so impoverished through the pillage of the Scythians 
that it was impossible to reckon on freewill offerings 
like those in the times of King Joash. Thus it became 
necessary actually to go begging for gifts in order to 
be able to repair the sanctuary. Levitic emissaries 
went through the city and country, from house to 
house, asking for contributions. Meanwhile, though 
King Josiah was thus actively working for the 
Temple, he was wanting in firmness in stamping out 
the errors of idolatry. A number of the nobles, it is 
true, had formally returned to their ancient creed, but 
only inasmuch as they swore by Jehovah, while they 
continued to worship idols. Other influences were 
needed to impress Josiah before he could summon 
heart to act. From two sides came the force which 
induced him to take a final step. On the one hand 
the impulse came from one of the prophets, who, from 
early youth, had spoken in powerful and irresistible 
language, and on the other, from a book which had 
revealed to the king the unmanliness of indecision. 
These two combined to bring about a better state of 
things in an extended circle, and also to lend fresh 
interest and a halo of poetry to the ancient law. 
The youth was the prophet Jeremiah, and the book 
that of Deuteronomy. Jeremijahu (Jeremiah), son of 
Hilkiah (born between 645 and 640, died between 
580 and 570). came from the little town of Anathoth, 
in the tribe of Benjamin. He was not poor, though 


by no means enjoying great wealth. His uncle 
Shallum and the latter's son Hanameel (his mother's 
relations) possessed landed property in Anathoth. 

Jeremiah's soul was rich and pure, like a clear 
mirror or a deep well-spring. Endowed with a 
gentle disposition and inclined to melancholy, the 
religious and moral condition of his surroundings 
had made a sad impression on him, even in his 
earliest youth. All that was false, perverse, and 
unworthy was repulsive to him, and filled him with 
sorrow. From the time that he began his work, his 
countrymen, the priests of Anathoth, persecuted him 
with such burning hate that it is impossible to think 
that they could have determined the bent of his 
mind. Undoubtedly, however, the writings of the 
elder prophets exercised an influence over his dis- 
position and ideas. His spirit became so imbued 
with their teachings that he used their thoughts, 
expressions, and words as his own. This study 
of the written prophetic legacies gave his mind its 
tendency, and filled him with exalted ideas of God, 
of the moral order in the events of humanity, of the 
importance of Israel's past and its significance in the 
future, and taught him to hate what was low. Follow- 
ing the divine call, he entered upon his prophetic 
mission, and afterwards initiated others, either in 
Anathoth or in Jerusalem. The description of his 
own initiation (Jer. ch. i.) can bear no comparison 
with the simplicity and depth with which Isaiah intro- 
duced himself as a prophet. The times demanded a 
different kind of eloquence. Moral degradation had 
strongly affected the nation, and ruin was sure to 
come, unless help were soon at hand. Nor did Jere- 
miah, like former prophets, speak to a small cultured 
circle, but to great popular assemblages, to the princes 
as well as to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the 
people of Judah. On them figures of speech would 
have been wasted ; it was necessary to speak clearly, 
and to the purpose, in order that the words might 

CH. xv. JEREMIAH. 391 

have effect, and so Jeremiah spoke chiefly in simple 
prose, only occasionally weaving into his speech the 
flowers of rhetoric. The threats of punishment and 
announcements of salvation of his predecessors, with 
the exception of Isaiah, were mostly vague and indefi- 
nite, and on this account the scornful inhabitants of 
Jerusalem had cast them to the winds. Jeremiah had 
to counteract the effects of such scornful disregard 
of prophetic announcements. He was endowed with 
greater prophetic gifts than any of his predecessors 
even than Isaiah. He prophesied in the first instance 
from year to year; later on, when the tragic fate 
neared its fulfilment, he predicted from month to 
month occurrences that were to come to pass, and 
his prophetic visions were realised with marvellous 
accuracy. He did not see the future in the uncertain 
light of dreams, but in broad daylight, with open 
eyes, while in communion with the outer world. 
Therefore he did not speak in enigmas, did not make 
hidden allusions, but called things by their true 

Upon this pure prophetic spirit had been put the 
heavy task of rousing the perverse nation, which had 
been going astray for nearly half a century, just at 
the time when the king was rousing himself from the 
lethargy into which he had drifted. 

No sooner had Jeremiah received his call than his 
diffidence and gentleness disappeared. He describes 
the sensations which the prophetic spirit awoke in 
him (Jeremiah xxiii. 29) : 

" Is not my word like as a fire ? saith the Lord : and like a hammer 
that shivereth the rock ?" 

His first speech of burning eloquence was directed 
against the nation's falling away from its traditions, 
against idolatry and its abominations. In it he not 
only hurled his crushing words against the perverted 
idol-worship, but also against the frequent recurrence 
of bloodshed (Jeremiah ii.). 


Words like these from so young a speaker could 
not fail to make an impression. Some of the noble 
families turned away from their immoral course, 
and returned to the God worshipped by Jeremiah 
and the other prophets. The family of Shaphan, 
which occupied a high position, joined the prophet's 
party, and defended it with fervour. King Josiah 
meanwhile devoted himself earnestly to the restora- 
tion of the ruined Temple. He commissioned (621) 
three of his chief officers Shaphan, Maasseiah, the 
governor of the city, and Joah, the chancellor to 
summon the high-priest to surrender the funds col- 
lected under his supervision, that they might be em- 
ployed in the purchase of building materials and the 
pay of the workingmen. When Hilkiah gave up the 
sum, he also handed a large roll to Shaphan, saying, 
"I have found the book of the law in the Temple." 
Shaphan read the roll, and was so struck by its 
contents that he informed the king of the discovery 
that had been made. This book exercised a wonder- 
ful influence. The Book of the Law which the high- 
priest Hilkiah gave to Shaphan to hand to the king 
was the last testament of the prophet Moses, which, 
before his death, he recommended to the earnest con- 
sideration of his people. It has an historical introduc- 
tion and an historical epilogue, leading the historical 
record up to and beyond the death of Moses. Laws 
are generally cold, stern, and hard, and with threat- 
ening gesture they say, " Thou shalt, or shalt not, or 
heavy punishment will overtake thee." The law-book 
found in the time of Josiah is not couched in such 
terms. It exhorts, warns, and actually entreats that 
this or that may be done or left undone. It uses 
the language of a loving father, whose son, standing 
before a great goal, is warned not to lose the bright 
future before him through his own fault, and thus 
become an object of scorn and a disgrace. A pleasant 
breeze is wafted from this book of Deuteronomy. 
As though with a garland of flowers, the laws (Miz- 


voth), statutes (Chukkim), and ordinances (Mish- 
patim) are surrounded with historical reminiscences 
and heartfelt admonitions, couched in sublime and 
poetic language. 

The book also contains a peculiar hymn, said to have 
been composed by Moses. In this hymn it is stated 
that the nation, in consequence of its prosperity, 
would turn away to false gods, and a depraved nation 
would be called to punish it. Then it would see 
that its chosen gods could not avail it, and that God 
alone, who had so wonderfully guided it, could kill 
and make alive, could wound and heal, and that 
He would avenge it, and purify the stained land. 
Terrible are the punishments inscribed in this roll 
for disobeying the laws. The veil is snatched away 
from the future, and the terrible disasters shown 
which await the people and the king, if they con- 
tinue in their present course. All the plagues 
which could bring humanity to despair are vividly 
described in this picture. On the one hand are 
sterility, starvation, drought and pestilence; humil- 
iation and persecution, oppressive slavery and dis- 
grace on the other, till physical and spiritual sufferings 
would end in heart-breaking, madness and idiocy. 

This peculiar book of the law, with its convincing 
exhortations and its gloomy prospect, which the 
priest Hilkiah had found and read to Shaphan, was 
carried by the latter in haste to King Josiah, to whom 
he read passages out of it. Terrified and shaken by the 
threats of punishment,and conscience-stricken for hav- 
ing hitherto permitted trespasses so plainly depicted in 
the newly-discovered book, the king in his grief tore 
his garments. He sent for the high-priest Hilkiah 
to counsel him. On his suggestion, King Josiah 
sent him and some of his officers to the prophetess 
Huldah, wife of Shallum, the overseer of the ward- 
robe, one of the royal officers. She announced to 
the king that the impending misfortune should not 
descend on him and his people in his own days, as 
he had repented of his former ways. 


Comforted as to the fate of his people during his 
own reign, King Josiah pursued the task of regen- 
eration with great energy. He took the newly-dis- 
covered book of the law as his guiding principle, and 
was far more severe and thorough than Hezekiah in 
the uprooting of idolatry. He first summoned all 
the elders of the people from the capital and the 
country, as also the entire population of the capital, 
the priests and prophets, and even the humble hewers 
of wood and drawers of water of the Temple, and 
had the contents of the law-book read to them. He 
himself stood during the reading on a stand which 
had been erected for the king in the Temple. For 
the first time the entire nation of Judah was informed 
of its duties, its expectations and prospects in obey- 
ing or disobeying the laws. The king proposed to 
form a covenant by which all present should bind 
themselves to carry out with heart and soul the laws and 
ordinances which had been read to them. Then the 
words were loudly proclaimed, "May all those be 
cursed who shall depart from this law," and all present 
said "Amen." The king commanded the high-priest 
Hilkiah, the priests of the second order, who had to 
watch over the Temple, and the Levitical guardians 
of the Temple gates, to cleanse it from the various 
forms of idol-worship. Thus the disgraceful figure 
of Astarte, the altars and cells of the prostitutes, also 
all articles belonging to the worship of Baal and 
Astarte, the sun-horses at the entrance of the Temple, 
and lastly the altars for the worship of the stars were 
all removed, crushed and burnt in the vale of Kidron, 
and the ashes cast over the graves of the dead. 
The altar in the vale of Hinnom, where children were 
sacrificed, was desecrated by order of the king. All 
the chief altars throughout the country were de- 
stroyed. This purification extended as far as Bethel, 
where the Cuthaeans, who had settled in the place, 
and the remnant of Israel still had their sanctuaries, 
and as far as those towns which had formerly be- 


longed to Samaria. The priests of the idols and altars 
were deposed, those of Levitical descent were obliged 
to remain in Jerusalem, where they could be kept under 
supervision, and where, though not allowed to offer 
sacrifices, they received their share of the tithes of the 
descendants of Aaron. The foreign priests were 
all removed, and probably sent out of the country. 
Josiah made a cruel exception of the Israelitish 
priests in Bethel, who had continued the worship of 
the bull, which had been introduced by Jeroboam, 
and had caused the degradation of the nation. 
These priests were killed on the altars, and the latter 
were desecrated by human remains. The king de- 
termined to make a striking example of Bethel, the 
spot where the negation and neglect of God's anci- 
ent law had originated. The less guilty descend- 
ants had in this case, as in many others, to atone for 
their more guilty forefathers. The king himself 
commenced the desecration of the idolatrous altar at 
Bethel. He cleared away the various idol-worships 
which had taken root and flourished at different 
times on Jewish ground, and he thus acted accord- 
ing to the precepts contained in the Book of Deuter- 

In the spring of the same year (621) Josiah sum- 
moned the entire nation to celebrate the feast of 
Passover in Jerusalem, according to the ordinances 
of the Law, and the nation willingly obeyed his 
mandate, having sworn to act according to the 
Law. This festival celebrated for the first time 
by the mass of the nation was rendered especi- 
ally solemn by inspiring psalms, sung and accom- 
panied by the Levites. One psalm, which was 
apparently sung on that occasion, has been pre- 
served. The choir of Levitical singers exhorted the 
Aaronites to praise the God of Jacob, reminded 
them of the persecutions they had undergone, of the 
deliverance from Egypt, and of the revelation at 
Sinai, and also admonished them to keep away from 


strange gods. They alluded to the exile of a part 
of the nation, and prophesied happy days for those 
who observed the Sinaitic law. (Psalm Ixxxi.) Jo- 
siah's energetic action against idolatry appeared so 
important an event to the faithful portion of the peo- 
ple that the prophets dated a new epoch from that 
time. The abominations of idolatry, with its terrible 
effects, which had so demoralised the nation for 
seven decades, had suddenly disappeared, owing to 
the zeal of the king. Social conditions were also 
improved. Josiah insisted on the enfranchisement of 
Hebrew slaves who had been six years in slavery, in 
accordance with the law which he had chosen as his 
guide. He also appointed unbiassed judges, who 
should secure justice to the poor and the helpless 
against the powerful. Historical accounts assert of 
Josiah that no king before him ever returned so 
sincerely to God, and carried out the law of Moses 
so strictly. In fact, Josiah appears also to have 
exerted himself energetically in political matters; 
he had the courage to assert his independence even 
against Egypt. 

At the outset of his prophetic career Jeremiah had 
announced a period of universal ruin and devasta- 
tion, to be followed by a new constitution of things. 
This change began in the last years of Josiah's 
reign. The empire of Assyria, which had subjected 
so many nations to its yoke, w r as to be delivered over 
to total destruction, and in its place new empires 
were to arise. Media and Babylon, the nearest de- 
pendencies of Nineveh, avenged the crimes of which 
that city had been guilty in its proud treatment of 
its adherents. The adventurous Nabopolassar, of 
Babylon (625-605), had broken the last tie which 
bound his country to Assyria, and had made himself 
independent. Egypt also endeavoured to take ad- 
vantage of the increasing weakness of Assyria. 
Here a daring king named Necho (Nekos, Nekaii), 
son of Psammetich, had ascended the throne, and 


strove to restore Egypt's former power. Necho 
assembled a great army, with the intention of con- 
quering the district of the Lebanon as far as the 
Euphrates, and of humiliating Assyria. He took 
the fortified Philistine city of Gaza by storm, and 
advancing along the slope on the coast of the Medi- 
terranean Sea, he purposed reaching the Jordan by 
the plain of Jezreel. Josiah, however, opposed his 
advance through this territory, which had formerly 
been in the possession of the Israelites. Hardly had 
Necho and his army reached the middle of the 
plain of Jezreel, than the army of Judah barred his 
way at Megiddo. The Egyptian king, it is said, 
assured Josiah that his campaign was not directed 
against the land of Judah, but against more distant 
territories. Notwithstanding this, Josiah compelled 
him to do battle. The result was disastrous to the 
king of Judah, for his army was beaten, and he him- 
self was dangerously wounded (608). His attend- 
ants hastily brought their beloved king to Jerusalem, 
and on his arrival there he breathed his last. When 
he was interred in the new mausoleum, men and 
women wept bitterly, and exclaimed, " Oh, king ! oh, 
glory!" From year to year, on the anniversary of 
the day on which this last excellent king of the house 
of David had sunk pierced by arrows, a lamentation 
was sung, composed by Jeremiah for the occasion. 
No king was more sincerely mourned than Josiah. 
The unfortunate battle of Megiddo in the plain of 
Jezreel was the turning point in the history of Judah. 



ESects of Josiah's Foreign Policy Jehoahaz Jehoiakim Egyptian 
Idolatry introduced The Prophets Uriah the Son of She- 
maiah Jeremiah's renewed Labours Fall of Assyria -Nebu- 
chadnezzar Baruch reads Jeremiah's Scroll Submission of 
Jehoiakim His Rebellion and Death Jehoiachin Zedekiah 
Siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar The Siege raised owing 
to the Intervention of Egypt Defeat of the Egyptians Renewal 
of the Siege Capture of Jerusalem Zedekiah in Babylon 
Destruction of the Capital Jeremiah's Lamentations. 

608586 "B. c. E. 

JOSIAH had expected to secure the independence of 
Judah, by calling a halt to the interference of Egypt 
in the affairs of other lands, but this policy led to the 
subjection of his own people to Egypt. In Jeru- 
salem, where the king's death was bitterly mourned, 
no further steps were taken till the election of a 
new king had been decided on. Josiah had left 
three sons; the first-born was Eliakim, and the 
two younger sons, Shallum and Mattaniah. The 
father appears to have named Shallum, the son of 
his favourite wife, as his successor. In order to do 
honour to their deeply-mourned king, the people 
confirmed Josiah's choice, though Shallum was two 
years younger than Eliakim. On his accession he, 
according to custom, took a different name that of 

Matters had, however, come to such a pass that the 
will of the nation could no longer establish their king 
firmly, nor could the holy oil render his person 
sacred: the decisive word lay with another power. 
The king of Egypt, to whom the country had become 
subject by the victory at Megiddo, had decided other- 
wise. Apparently, without troubling himself about 


Judaea, Necho had reached the district of the Euph- 
rates by forced marches; had obtained possession of 
the territories of Aram or Syria, belonging to Assyria, 
and had taken up his residence in Riblah. Jehoahaz 
repaired thither to meet Necho, to have his election 
confirmed by him, and at the same time to receive 
the land of Judaea from him as a tributary state. 
But the newly-elected king found no favour in the 
eyes of the Egyptian sovereign, who caused him to 
be put into chains and carried off to Egypt. He then 
named Eliakim king of Judah. Jehoahaz had only 
reigned three months. 

Eliakim, or, as he was called after his accession, 
Jehoiakim (607-596), had to perform an unpleasant 
duty at the very commencement of his reign. 
Necho had imposed on the land a heavy and humili- 
ating tribute of 100 khikars of silver and one khikar 
of gold, as a punishment to Josiah for having hin- 
dered his march through the country. There was 
no treasure at that time in the palace or the Temple. 
Jehoiakim, therefore, taxed all the wealthy according 
to their wealth, and caused these imposts to be 
forcibly collected by his servants. Added to this 
humiliation there arose another evil. The moral and 
religious improvement brought about by Josiah was, 
according to the predictions contained in the law 
lately discovered, to bring happier times in its wake, 
and now the people found themselves sorely disap- 
pointed. The God-fearing king had fallen on the 
battle-field, and had been brought back dying to the 
capital ; the flower of the Israelitish army had been 
cut down, a royal prince lay in fetters, and the country 
had fallen into disgraceful bondage. 

This change occasioned a turn in the tide of 
opinion; a relapse set in. The nation, including the 
more enlightened amongst them, began to doubt the 
power of God, who had not fulfilled, or could not 
fulfil, the promises He had made to them. They 
cherished the delusion that by resuming the foreign 


idolatrous practices which had existed during so long 
a period under Manasseh, they would better their for- 
tunes. They therefore returned to their evil ways, 
erected altars and high places on every hill and under 
every green tree. In J udah there were as many gods as 
there were towns. They paid special homage to the 
Egyptian goddess Ne'ith, the Queen of Heaven, who 
was most zealously adored in Sais, the capital of 
King Necho; for had not this goddess assisted the 
Egyptian king in the victory he had obtained ? Images 
of gold and silver, of wood and stone, were again 
erected in the houses. The Temple itself was, as in 
Manasseh's time, once more desecrated by hideous 
idols. The most disgraceful feature of the change 
was that the sacrifice of children again prevailed, as 
in the days of Ahaz and Manasseh. In the beautiful 
Valley of Hinnom an altar was again erected, and 
moaning children were ruthlessly offered up to 
Moloch, the first-born especially being selected for 
the sacrifice. 

These idolatrous and immoral practices were ac- 
companied by the vices and crimes of debauchery, 
adultery, oppression of strangers, widows and or- 
phans, by corruption of justice, untruth, dishonesty, 
usury and cruelty towards impecunious debtors, and 
murder. There was certainly a class which upheld 
the law, and which regretted the horrors of these 
crimes. But amongst the masses who gave them- 
selves up to the aberrations of idolatry and immorality, 
it was difficult for those who desired better things to 
give practical effect to their views. False prophets 
advocated wrong-doing and crime. King Jehoiakim, 
although he did not actually encourage the revival of 
idolatry, permitted it, and either from weakness, or 
from sympathy with them, did nothing to check 
the moral decadence. The stern warnings of the 
prophets were unheeded by the king, his monitors 
being persecuted or slain. 

CH. xvl. THE PROPHETS. 301 

The prophets of God had a heavy task in this 
time of degeneracy ; they had to be prepared for per- 
secution and ill-treatment. But they paid little heed 
to the dangers they incurred ; they felt impelled to 
oppose fearlessly the moral and religious ruin which 
was impending. At no period did there arise so many 
prophets as in the last two decades before the 
destruction of the Jewish kingdom. They addressed 
the nation, the princes, and the king almost daily, at 
every opportunity ; they warned, roused and threat- 
ened them, and prophesied their destruction, if the 
prevailing wickedness did not cease. The names of 
only four of these prophets have been preserved: 
Jeremiah, Uriah, Habakkuk, and Ezekiel. But the 
prophecies of others, who fought the battle against 
idolatry, have remained, though their names have not 
been recorded. 

Of Uriah, son of Shemaiah, from the Forest City 
(Kirjath-Jearim), nothing is known, except his tragical 
death. At the commencement of the reign of King 
Jehoiakirn (between 607-604) he had prophesied the 
destruction of Jerusalem and of the whole land, 
if the people did not give up their evil ways. 
When Jehoiakim was informed of this prophecy of 
evil, he dispatched messengers to seize and kill its 
author. Meanwhile Uriah, having been secretly 
warned of his danger, fled to Egypt. Jehoiakim, 
however, was so enraged against him, that he sent 
one of his nobles to Egypt to demand his sur- 
render. He was brought back to Jerusalem and 
beheaded, his body being cast on the burial-place 
of the common people. This murder of the 
prophet, instead of intimidating Jeremiah, seems to 
have confirmed him in his energetic action. With 
the accession of Jehoiakim and the relapse of the 
nation into its former state of sin, he began anew 
his work as a prophet, which had been in abey- 
ance during the reign of Josiah. Jeremiah now, 
for the first time, comprehended the meaning of 


the words which had been addressed to him as a 
disciple in the first hours of his prophetic calling. 
" I have made thee a fortified city, and an iron 
pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, 
against the kings of Judah, against the princes 
thereof, against the priests thereof, and against 
the people of the land." He was to remain firm 
and unmoved, and to meet fearlessly the impending 
persecutions. Acting on this idea, he prepared 
to announce the inevitable destruction, though his 
tender heart bled, and he often had to seek fresh 
courage in order that he might not grow faint in his task 
of prophesying evil. Jeremiah, meanwhile, had grown 
to man's estate; but he took no wife. He could not 
devote himself to household joys whilst the shadow 
of approaching troubles darkened his soul. He 
went forth alone and in sadness. He could take no 
part in convivial pleasures, because the sins of the 
nation crushed in him all feelings of gladness. 

Through one of his first addresses in Jehoiakim's 
reign he drew on himself the hatred of all zealous 
idolaters, and especially of the priests and false 
prophets. When the populace, at one of the fes- 
tivals, had assembled to offer up sacrifices, he called 
to them, 

" Thus saith the Lord God of Hosts : Amend your ways and your 
doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. ... Is this 
house, which is called by my name, to be a den of robbers ? Behold 
even I have seen it, saith the Lord. . . . And now, because ye 
have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you. 
rising- up early and speaking, but ye heard not, and I called you and 
ye answered not, therefore will I do unto this house, which is called 
by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you 
and your fathers, as I have done unto Shiloh." (JEREM. ch. vii.) 

Hardly had Jeremiah finished these words when 
the priests and false prophets seized him, and said, 
" Thou shalt die as thou hast prophesied that this 
Temple will become as that of Shiloh." A tumult 
arose in the courts of the Temple, and some of the 
bystanders supported Jeremiah. This tumult induced 


some of the princes to repair from the palace to the 
Temple amongst these was Ahikam, son of Sha- 
phan and others who belonged to the prophet's 
party. The princes immediately formed a court of 
justice at one of the gates of the Temple, and heard the 
accusation and the defence. The priests and the false 
prophets said, " This man deserves death, for he has 
prophesied destruction to the city and the Temple." 
A few of the elders spoke in favour of Jeremiah. 
Then the princes said to the angry priests and the false 
prophets, " This man does not deserve death, for he 
has spoken to us in the name of our God." Through 
the exertions of his friends, and especially of Ahikam, 
Jeremiah was set free for the time. But the hatred 
of the priests and the false prophets towards him 
raged the more fiercely, and they watched for an 
opportunity to attack him. 

Meanwhile the doom of the Assyrian empire had 
been fulfilled. It fell ignominiously, through the 
united exertions of Cyaxares of Media and Nabo- 
polassar of Babylon. Nineveh, the giant city, fell 
after a long siege (605). The last king of Assyria, 
Sardanapalus, burnt himself in his citadel. In con- 
sequence of the downfall of Assyria, important 
changes occurred on the central scene of passing 
events. Media became the chief heir of the Assyrian 
possessions Cyaxares took the lion's share, and 
gave to his ally, Nabopolassar, Babylonia, Elymais, 
and the privilege of conquering the countries on the 
western side of the Euphrates. King Nabopolassar 
did not long survive his victory. He was succeeded 
by Nebuchadnezzar a great warrior (604 561), and 
a wise, far-seeing statesman. He was by no means 
cruel, and only punished his enemies as severely as 
was necessary to render them harmless. Neb- 
uchadnezzar strengthened his now enlarged king- 
dom internally, erected gigantic buildings, and estab- 
lished a system of navigation by means of canals. 
He then undertook a more extensive expedition of 


conquest. Aramaean Assyria, or Syria, which was 
split up into small districts, was subdued without 
much opposition. Next Phoenicia fell, and its king, 
Ithobal (Ethbaal) II., also became Nebuchadnezzar's 

The mighty conqueror then offered Jehoiakim the 
alternative to pay him allegiance or to be crushed. 
On the other hand, the king of Egypt counselled 
him to resist firmly, and promised that he would send 
help. Judah fell into a condition similar to that 
in the days of Hezekiah, and became the battle- 
field for the contest between two great powers. A 
policy had to be resolved on, but whilst awaiting 
aid from Egypt, or a miracle, Jehoiakim and his 
counsellors delayed coming to a decision from day 

to day. 

Amidst the general alarm a fast was proclaimed ; 
in the ninth month, in the winter of 600, the whole 
nation was summoned to Jerusalem, and there it en- 
treated the Lord to avert the impending evil from 
the land. The nation, in great excitement and fear 
as to what the future might bring on it, crowded 
to the Temple as though it would find security 
there. Jeremiah meanwhile commanded his faithful 
disciple, Baruch, to write down the prophetic exhor- 
tation which he had uttered some years before, and in 
which he had predicted that Judah herself,as well as all 
the nations around her, would be reduced to subjec- 
tion to the young Chaldsean empire. After Baruch had 
inscribed this address on a roll, Jeremiah commanded 
him to read it in front of the Temple, in the presence 
of all the inhabitants of the capital and the entire 
country. The prophet himself was from some cause 
prevented from being present, and therefore Baruch 
was to represent him. Baruch, though not without 
hesitation, undertook this task. In an open hall, in 
the upper court of the Temple, he read the contents 
of the scroll to the whole nation. The address 
made a deep impression on the people, confronted 


as they were with the impending danger of an 
attack from Nebuchadnezzar's army, which now 
lay but a short distance from Jerusalem. A young 
man, Michaiah, son of Gemariah, hastened to the 
princes who had assembled in one of the halls of the 
palace, and there, agitated as he was, he communi- 
cated to them what he had heard. The alarmed 
princes invited Baruch to read again, in their presence, 
Jeremiah's scroll. Each word fell heavily on their 
hearts, and they were seized with terror. They, there- 
fore, determined to inform the king of what they had 
heard, hoping that he, too, would be moved and 
convinced that he must give up all opposition to 
Nebuchadnezzar. For a moment they hoped for the 
best, when Jehoiakim commanded that ths scroll 
be brought and read to him. But as each leaf was 
read, it was, by the king's order, handed to him, and 
he threw it into the fire. The princes witnessed 
this act of defiance with dismay, and entreated the 
king not to draw down destruction on them. He, 
however, paid no heed to them, and continued to 
throw the pages into the fire until the whole scroll 
was consumed. Jehoiakim then issued an order 
that the prophet of evil and his disciple be sought, 
in order that they might be killed as Uriah had been. 
Happily, the anxious princes had previously made 
arrangements to save Jeremiah and Baruch by hiding 
them in a secure place. 

It was, doubtless, a day of intense excitement for 
Jerusalem. The entire nation that had assembled for 
the fast departed without having gained its end. 
The reading of the scroll had, however, one effect: it 
brought about a division in the council of the princes. 
Those who were convinced by Jeremiah's prophecies, 
and had been instrumental in saving him, were de- 
termined to submit to Nebuchadnezzar. Amongst 
them was the Keeper of the Lists (Sopher), Elishama, 
who directed the war arrangements. He and 
other men of note being opposed to war, Jehoi- 


akim could not undertake war, or his throne might 
be endangered. He therefore made peace with 
Nebuchadnezzar, paid the tribute imposed, promised 
him military aid, and assumed all the duties which 
in those days were imposed on a vassal. This was 
the commencement of the Chaldaean vassalage of 
Judah (600). Jeremiah, it appears, could now leave 
his hiding-place. Incensed as the king was against 
him, he dared not touch a hair of his head, for the 
princes who had saved him continued to protect him. 
Jehoiakim, however, bore the Chaldaean yoke 
with great reluctance; he could no longer give reins 
to his passion. The king of Egypt, no doubt, con- 
tinued to urge Jehoiakim to rebel against Nebuchad- 
nezzar. When, therefore, Ethbaal II. of Phoenicia 
withdrew his allegiance (598), Jehoiakim, with in- 
comprehensible blindness, likewise refused to pay 
tribute, and allied himself with Egypt, and probably 
also with Phoenicia. Nebuchadnezzar, consequently, 
had to collect all his forces against Phoenicia. He 


commenced the siege of Tyre, which lasted thirteen 
years. He was, therefore, for the time being, 
prevented from chastising the rebellious king of 
Judah, and the latter might flatter himself with the 
belief that he had lastingly secured his indepen- 
dence. But though Nebuchadnezzar could not send 
a great army out against him, he nevertheless dis- 
tressed the country by predatory inroads. Idumsean, 
Moabitish and Ammonitish hordes also overran the 
land and devastated it. At this critical period, Jehoia- 
kim died (697). His successor was his young son Jehoi- 
achin (Jeconiah, shortened into Coniah), or rather 
the reins of government were taken in hand by his 
mother, Nehushta. Jehoiachin also cherished the 
idea that he could oppose Nebuchadnezzar, and, 
therefore, did not pay him homage. He also con- 
tinued to practise the horrors of idolatry and im- 
morality as his father had done. But this blindness 
of Jehoiachin and his mother lasted only a short time. 


Nebuchadnezzar at length was enabled to withdraw, 
from the siege of Tyre, a great portion of his army, 
with which he proceeded against Egypt. This Chal- 
daean army easily subdued the entire country south 
of Phoenicia as far as the Egyptian river (Rhino- 
kolura). The whole of Judah was also taken, with 
the exception of a few fortified towns in the south. 
Those who fell into the hands of the enemy were 
made prisoners. Notwithstanding this, Jehoiachin 
continued his opposition, thinking himself safe behind 
the thick walls of Jerusalem, relying besides on the 
support of Egypt in the event of a siege. 

Nebuchadnezzar, therefore, sent some of his gen- 
erals to besiege Jerusalem. Jehoiachin had no time 
to think of repentance, for the besiegers were gain- 
ing on him, and the distress in the city was great. 
He therefore commenced to arrange conditions of 
surrender with the generals, when Nebuchadnezzar 
came to the camp, and was entreated by the king, 
the queen-mother and her court, to be merciful. 
The victor, however, showed no mercy, but imposed 
hard conditions. Jehoiachin had to relinquish his 
throne, and go, together with his mother, his wives, 
his kindred, and eunuchs, into exile in Babylonia. He 
had occupied the throne of David for only one hun- 
dred days. It was surprising that Nebuchadnezzar 
spared his life, and indeed, that he refrained altogether 
from bloodshed. He only banished ten thousand of 
the warriors and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, taken 
indiscriminately from the various families that lived 
in the capital, and transplanted them to Babylonia. 
Among them he also carried off a thousand me- 
chanics who were skilled in forging arms and build- 
ing fortifications. Of the Judaeans who lived in 
the country he also took three thousand and twenty- 
three to Babylon as prisoners. That Nebuchad- 
nezzar took possession of the treasures of the 
palace and the Temple was not an act of especial 
violence, but was justified by the military laws of 


those days. But he left the commonwealth intact, 
spared the city and its walls, and left the Temple 
uninjured. The first foreign conqueror Jerusalem 
had had after an existence of five hundred years 
showed greater mercy than many of the conquerors 
of later ages. 

Nebuchadnezzar likewise refrained from disestab- 
lishing David's throne, and placed on it the youngest 
son of Josiah, Mattaniah, who called himself Zedekiah. 
He was of a gentle, unwarlike and pliable character. 
The Babylonian conqueror thought that these quali- 
ties would be guarantees of peace and submission. 
In order, however, to make sure of Zedekiah's loy- 
alty, Nebuchadnezzar entered into a solemn treaty 
with him, and bound him by an oath of fealty. The 
land of Judah was of extreme importance to him as 
a bulwark against Egypt, in the subjection of which 
he was continually engaged. For this reason he had 
sent into banishment the noble families and the 
princes of Judah, thus removing the daring and fool- 
hardy men who might urge the king to ambitious 
schemes and rebellion. His object was to render 
Judah a weak, insignificant and dependent state, 
deriving its strength from him. 

Judah might, in fact, have continued to exist as a 
modest appendage of Babylon. It would soon have 
recovered from the severe blows inflicted on it. 
Though the banishment of so many noble families, 
the flower of the army and of the nation, was a severe 
blow ; and though the capital and the country were 
filled with sorrow in consequence of their subjection, 
the remnant of the people nevertheless recovered 
themselves with wonderful rapidity, and again at- 
tained to a prosperous condition. 

The nobles, however, were not satisfied with their 
modest condition ; they wished for wider spheres of 
activity. It was the curse of the country during the 
last century that the nobles of the capital not only 
governed the people, but also the court. The kings 


were but of little account, for, in imitation of the custom 
of kings like Sardanapalus, they lived in the harem of 
their palaces, and occupied their time with trifles. 
These nobles could now the more easily assert them- 
selves, as their king, Zedekiah, was swayed by a most 
unkinglike weakness and indolence, and had not the 
courage to withstand them. He was, however, per- 
sonally well-disposed. He does not seem to have par- 
ticularly favoured idolatry, but rather to have lamented 
the national evils when they were brought under 
his notice, and to have given ear to the prophets. 
But he did not possess the power to oppose the 
nobles and their actions. Zedekiah may have in- 
tended to remain faithful to the oath of fealty which 
he had taken to his liege lord Nebuchadnezzar ; but 
he had not the strength of will to adhere to his reso- 
lution. Rebellious schemes were secretly formed, 
which he, in the seclusion of his palace, did not find 
out, or, if cognisant of them, was incapable of oppos- 
ing. This weakness on the part of the king, and 
foolhardiness on the part of the nobles, led to the fall 
of Judah. The nobles appear to have been seized with 
madness. Suggestions were made, in various quar- 
ters, of rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar. Egypt, ever 
false and deceitful, was continually gpading the Jud- 
seans on by making brilliant promises of alliance which 
it seldom kept. On the other side, King Ethbaal of 
Tyre urged upon Judah and the neighbouring 
countries a war against Nebuchadnezzar. And by 
a third party, Judah was urged to revolt against 
Babylon, namely, by the banished Judaeans, who 
stood in constant communication with their native 
land by letters and messengers. They clamoured 
for war, because they cherished the vague hope that 
Nebuchadnezzar's army would be defeated, and they 
would, in one way or another, regain their freedom 
and return to their country In the fourth year of 
Zedekiah's reign (593), the ambassadors from the 
countries which were simultaneously urging Zedekiah 


to break his word and faith, arrived in Jerusalem: 
from Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon. They 
employed all the artifices of eloquence, and made 
promises and suggestions in order to bring the 
wavering monarch to a decision. Judah might have 
felt proud to be thus sought after and courted, to be 
considered, indeed, as the centre of political events. 

It is not known what reply Zedekiah sent through 
the ambassadors. His weak character surely made 
a definite decision an impossibility. Jeremiah op- 
posed the universal frenzy, and it required no 
little courage on his part to do so. His prophetic 
spirit perceived that Nebuchadnezzar was destined 
to hurry through a course of victories, and to sub- 
jugate many nations to his sceptre. He, there- 
fore, warned King Zedekiah, the nation and the 
priests, not to give themselves up to flattering 
hopes, but to submit to the Babylonian rule, or they 
would be crushed by the mighty conqueror. Jere- 
miah considered it as his prophetic calling to warn 
the deluded exiles in Babylon. He directed a mes- 
sage to them, telling them : 

"Build ye houses and dwell in them ; and plant gardens and eat 
the fruit of them ; take ye wives and beget sons and daughters, and 
take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that 
they may bear sons and daughters ; and multiply ye there and be not 
diminished. And seek ye the peace of the city whither I have caused 
you to be carried away captive, and pray unto the Lord for it : for in 
the peace thereof shall ye have peace. For thus saith the Lord of 
Hosts, the God of Israel : Let not your prophets that be in the midst 
of you, and your diviners deceive you, neither hearken ye to your 
dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely 
to you in my name : I have not sent them, saith the Lord. For thus 
saith the Lord, After seventy years be accomplished for Babylon, I 
will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing 
you to return to this place." (JEREMIAH xxix. 4-8.) 

But Zedekiah could not long resist the distracting 
voices of the false prophets, the pressure from with- 
out, from Egypt and the neighbouring countries, and 
the impetuosity of Judah's ambitious nobles. He per- 
mitted himself to be carried along with the stream, 
refused to pay the tribute to Nebuchadnezzar, and 


thus, unmindful of his oath, renounced Judah's allegi- 
ance to Babylonia (591)- Thus the die was cast 
which was to decide the future of the nation. Neb- 
uchadnezzar, who for some time, however, remained 
passive, proceeded with his army to chastise the 
rebellious people like disobedient slaves. It appears 
that the surrounding nations who had urged the 
revolt were the first to submit. Judah was left en- 
tirely dependent on the assistance of Egypt, but 
even Egypt was afraid to deal an effective blow. 
It was, therefore, easy for Nebuchadnezzar to sub- 
due the land of Judah and even to occupy its 
fortresses In the south-west only, Lachish and 
Azeka offered opposition. The Chaldaean army, 
however, left them unmolested, and proceeded 
against Jerusalem on the loth day of the loth 
month (at the end of 588, or the beginning of 587). 
The capital of Judah had meanwhile been fortified, 
and supplied with provisions and water for a long 
siege, but the inhabitants of the country, having, at 
the approach of the enemy, fled into the city with 
their children and herds, had increased the number 
of consumers. Zedekiah or his palace-officers, cour- 
tiers, and nobles having refused to obey the sum- 
mons to surrender, Nebuchadnezzar commenced a 
regular siege. The men of Jerusalem must have 
defended themselves bravely, for the siege lasted, 
with little interruption, for nearly a year and a half 
(from January, 587, to June, 586). The leader of 
the besieged party was a eunuch in the service of 
King Zedekiah. The king himself played a passive 
part. He was neither commander of the troops, 
nor leader of the movement. His irresolution and 
weakness were clearly shown in this time of trouble. 
The siege of Jerusalem had made the task of 
Jeremiah a painful one. Though prevented by his 
advanced age from taking part in the defence and 
the war, yet his patriotism and his sympathy with 
the people impelled him to inspire the warriors with 


courage. His prophetic calling and power of fore- 
sight, on the other hand, compelled him to announce 
that the contest was in vain, and that the destruction 
of the city was decreed, on account of the blood 
which had been shed and the sins which had been 
committed. Freedom of speech could not at this 
period be denied him, as his name as a true prophet 
had been established by the events which had 
occurred. The nations of the north had set up 
their throne at the gates of Jerusalem, and had pre- 
pared a great chastisement. 

When the siege of Jerusalem had lasted nearly a 
year, during which there had been many engage- 
ments with varying success, a change suddenly took 
place. King Apries (Hophra) of Egypt at length 
determined to fulfil his oft-repeated promise, and 
sent an army against Nebuchadnezzar. This Egyp- 
tian army must have been a mighty one, for the Chal- 
dseans, hearing of its approach, raised the siege of 
Jerusalem, and marched to oppose it (February or 
March, 586). The joy in Jerusalem was unbounded; 
as the gates were at length opened, after being so long 
closed, the inhabitants hurried out to enjoy a sense of 
freedom. Hardly had the terrors of the siege abated, 
when many of the nobility and the opulent returned to 
their former wickedness. The slaves who had been 
recently released were, notwithstanding a solemn 
covenant and oath, compelled to return to their 
former bondage and former degradation. Jeremiah 
was deeply angered at this cruelty and selfishness; 
he delivered a scathing address to the nobles and the 
king, in which he reproached them with their perjury, 
and announced that the Chaldaeans would return 
and capture Jerusalem ; and that fire, war, hunger, 
and pestilence would rage amongst the people. 

The princes of Judah had been greatly incensed 
against Jeremiah for his former opposition ; but his 
last address excited a deadly hatred against him. As 
he was one day leaving the city to go to his birth- 


place, Anathoth, he was seized by a sentinel under 
the pretext that he was deserting to the Chaldseans. 
In spite of his assurance that he had no thought of 
flight, he was delivered up to the princes. Glad of 
an opportunity to revenge themselves on him, they 
treated him as a traitor and spy, beat him, and put 
him into a cistern (Adar, 586) in the house of Jona- 
than, the Keeper of the Lists (Sopher) , a hard, heartless 
man who was made his jailor. In this narrow, dirty, 
unhealthy place Jeremiah remained for many days. 

The frenzied joy did not last long in Jerusalem. 
The Chaldaean army, which had marched against the 
Egyptian forces, under Apries, utterly routed the 
enemy and put them to flight. The power of Egypt 
was broken, and Judah was now again left entirely to 
its own resources. The Chaldaeans returned to the 
siege of Jerusalem, and surrounded it more closely 
than before, so as to bring the siege to a speedy end. 
The courage of those who were shut up in the capi- 
tal now began to fail. Many, anxious for their own 
safety, left the besieged city at unguarded places, 
and went over to the Chaldaeans, or fled to Egypt. 
King Zedekiah himself was fearful about the result, 
and saw too late that he had been guilty of folly in 
attempting to cope with the Babylonian power, with- 
out the support of a liberty-loving people. 

Not alone had the war killed off many, but famine 
and pestilence now increased the number of deaths. 
The number of warriors continued to decrease, and 
at last so few remained that they were unable to 
defend the walls. At length the last hour of Jeru- 
salem struck, of that city which even the heathen had 
considered impregnable. On the Qth of Tamuz (June, 
586) there was no more bread in the city, and in con- 
sequence of the utter exhaustion of the garrison, the 
Chaldaeans succeeded in making a wide breach in 
the wall, by which they penetrated into the city. 
Nebuchadnezzar was not present; he was at Riblah, 
in Syria. His generals and the elders of the Magi pro- 


ceeded to the very heart of Jerusalem unmolested, in 
order to pass judgment on the inhabitants. The Chal- 
daean warriors probably met with no opposition, as the 
inhabitants, enfeebled by famine, could scarcely drag 
themselves along. They overran all parts of the city, 
killing youths and men who appeared capable of 
resistance, making prisoners of others and loading 
them with chains. The barbarous soldiers, rendered 
savage by the long siege, violated women and maidens 
irrespective of age. They also entered the Temple 
and massacred the Aaronides and prophets who had 
sought safety in the Sanctuary, amidst cries of rage, 
as if they wished to wage war with the God of Israel. 
The Chaldseans were accompanied by many of the 
neighbouring nations, the Philistines, Idumaeans, and 
Moabites, who had joined Nebuchadnezzar. They 
stole the treasures and desecrated the Sanctuary. 

Zedekiah, with the remnant of the defenders, 
meanwhile succeeded in escaping at night through 
the royal gardens and by a subterranean passage in 
the north-eastern part of the city. He sought in 
haste to reach the Jordan, but Chaldsean horsemen 
hurried after the fugitives, and blocked their way 
in the narrow passes. Weakened as they were, 
crawling along rather than walking, they could be 
easily overtaken and made captive. In the city, the 
only dignitaries whom the troops found were the 
High Priest (Seraiah), the Captain of the Temple 
(Zephaniah), the Eunuch who had conducted the 
war, the Keeper of the Lists (Sopher), the confidants 
of the king, the door-keepers, and about sixty others. 
They were all taken to Riblah, and there beheaded 
at Nebuchadnezzar's command. No one could remain 
in Jerusalem or its neighbourhood, as the air was 
rendered pestilential by the numerous corpses which 
lay unburied. Amongst the prisoners was the pro- 
phet Jeremiah. He was found in the court Mattara, in 
the king's palace, and the Chaldsean soldiers, believing 
him to be a servant of the palace, made him prisoner. 


His disciple Baruch no doubt shared his fate. The 
generals appointed Gedaliah, a Judaean ol noble 
birth, son of Ahikam, of the family of Shaphan, as 
overseer of the prisoners and fugitives. 

The last hope left the unfortunate remnant of 
the nation when the news reached them that the 
king was captured. Zedekiah and his followers were 
overtaken near Jericho by the Chaldsean horsemen. 
The warriors who were with him scattered at the 
approach of the enemy, and crossed the Jordan 
or took refuge in some hiding-place, but Zedekiah, his 
sons, and some of his nobles were taken prisoners by 
the Chaldseans, and led to Riblah, before Nebuchad- 
nezzar. The latter poured out all his justified 
anger on the king for his faithlessness and perjury, 
and the punishment he decreed upon him was 
terrible. Nebuchadnezzar caused all the sons and re- 
lations of Zedekiah to be executed before his eyes, and 
then had him blinded. Deprived of his sight and 
loaded with chains, he was taken to Babylon. He 
did not long survive his sufferings. 

What was to be done with the city of Jerusalem ? 
She had become a charnel-house, but was still 
standing. The generals who had captured her had 
no instructions as to her fate. Nebuchadnezzar him- 
self appears at first to have been undecided about 
it, but at last he sent Nebuzaradan, the chief of his 
guard, with orders to destroy the city. The Idumsean 
nobles, filled with hate, immediately sought to make 
him complete the destruction without mercy (Psalm 
cxxxvii 7). Nebuzaradan gave orders to raze the 
walls, to burn the Temple, palace, and all the beau- 
tiful houses, and this order was conscientiously 
fulfilled (loth Ab August, 586). The treasures 
still remaining in the Temple, the artistically worked 
brazen pillars, the molten sea, the lavers of brass, the 
gold and silver bowls and the musical instruments, 
were all broken to pieces or conveyed to Babylon. 

Jerusalem had become a heap of ruins, the Temple- 


mount a wilderness, but not one of the great capitals 
which fell from the height of glory into the dust has 
been so honoured in its destruction as Jerusalem. 
Poetry recorded her mournful fate in lamentations, 
psalms and prayers, in such touching tones that every 
tender heart must feel compassion with her even at 
this day. Poetry has wound about her head a 
martyr's crown, which has become transformed into a 

Jeremiah and probably two or three other poets 
composed four lamentations corresponding to the 
four stages of the trouble which befell the city. Ihe 
first lamentation was written immediately after the 
capture of Jerusalem. The city still stood, the walls, 
palaces, and Temple were not yet destroyed, but 
it was deprived of its inhabitants and its joys. 
This lamentation chiefly deplores the friendlessness 
of Jerusalem; her greatest sorrow lies in the faithless- 
ness of her allies, who now delight in her fall. Ihe 
second lamentation deplores the destruction of the 
city and its walls, and especially the fall of the Sanc- 
tuary. The third lamentation bemoans the destruc- 
tion of all that was noble by the lingering famine, 
and the despair which fell upon the survivors on 
the capture of the king. The fourth lamentation 
describes the utter desolation of Jerusalem after its 
complete destruction by the enemy. 



The National Decay The Fugitives Enmity of the Idumeeans 
Johanan, Son of Kareah The Lamentation Nebuchadnezzar 
appoints Gedaliah as Governor Jeremiah Encourages the 
People Mizpah Ishmael Murders Gedaliah The Flight to 
Egypt Jeremiah's Counsel Disregarded Depopulation oi Ju- 
dah The Idumaeans make Settlements in the Country Obadiah 
Condition of the Judaeans in Egypt Defeat of Hophra 
Egypt under Amasis Jeremiah's Last Days. 

586 572 B. c. E. 

ABOUT a thousand years had passed since the tribes 
of Israel had so courageously and hopefully crossed 
the Jordan under their brave leader, and half that 
interval had elapsed since the first two kings of the 
house of David had raised the nation to a com- 
manding position. After such a career, what an 
ending ! The greater part of the Ten Tribes had 
been scattered for more than a century in unknown 
countries. Of the remaining tribes, composing the 
kingdom of Judah, the greater part had been de- 
stroyed by war, famine and pestilence ; a small 
number had been led away into captivity, and an 
insignificant few had emigrated to Egypt or fled else- 
where, or lived in their own country, in constant terror 
of the fate which the victors might have reserved for 
them. Manifold enemies, in fact, let loose their 
anger against these few, in order to bring about their 
destruction, as if not a single Israelite was to survive 
in his own country. 

The remainder of the soldiers, who had fled at 
night with Zedekiah from the conquered capital, had 
dispersed at the approach of the Chaldsean pursuers. 
A handful, under the command of one of the princes 
of the blood royal, Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, had 


escaped across the Jordan, and had found shelter with 
Baalis, the king of the Ammonites. The rest had pre- 
ferred to flee to Egypt, whither several families had 
already emigrated, because they hoped to receive the 
protection of Hophra, who was an ally of their country. 
But in order to reach it they had to cross Idumaean 
territory, and here a fierce, unrelenting enemy awaited 
them. The Idumaeans, mindful of their old hatred, 
untouched by the brotherly kindliness of Judah, and 
not contented with the fall of Jerusalem and with the 
booty they had acquired, carried their enmity so far 
as to post a guard on the borders of their land for 
the purpose of killing the fugitive Israelites or deliv- 
ering them up to the Chaldaeans, with whom they 
wished to ingratiate themselves. It was not only 
dislike, but also policy which prompted Edom to 
behave with cruelty to the miserable fugitives. They 
hoped to obtain possession of the entire territory 
which had so long been in the hands of the people of 
Israel. The Idumaeans loudly exclaimed, " Both the 
nations and both the kingdoms will belong to us" 
(Ezekiel xxxv. 10). The Philistines also, and all the 
neighbouring nations displayed hatred and malice, 
and but few of the Israelitish fugitives found refuge 
in the Phoenician cities. Phoenicia was too far from 
Judaea, and before the fugitives could reach it they 
were overtaken and made prisoners by the Chal- 

The greater number of the chiefs and soldiers who 
had fled from Jerusalem with Zedekiah preferred 
to remain in their own counrty. They clung to the 
ground on which they had been born as though they 
could not separate themselves from it. At cheir head 
was Johanan, son of Kareah. But they had to seek 
hiding-places in order to escape from the Chaldaeans. 
They hid in the clefts, grottoes and caves of the 
mountains, or among the ruins of the fallen cities, and 
doubtless made raids from their hiding-places in order 
to obtain provisions, or to attack straggling Chaldaeans 


and their adherents. These Judaeans were often 
obliged to seek the means for sustaining their miser- 
able existence at the peril of their lives. If they were 
caught they were condemned to an ignominious 
death or subjected to disgraceful treatment. The 
nobles of advanced age were hanged; the young 
were condemned to carry mills from one place to 
another, and to do other slavish work. A psalmist, 
who was one of the sufferers from the woes of 
this desperate condition, composed a heart-rending 
lamentation, the short verses of which sound like 
sobs and tears (Lamentations, ch. v.). For a short 
time it seemed as if this miserable condition of 
the scattered people, this destructive war against 
the fugitives, would come to an end. Nebuchad- 
nezzar did not wish Judah to be annihilated; he 
determined to let the insignificant community remain 
in the land, though he did not wish a native or even 
a foreign king to be at their head. He therefore 
determined to appoint Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, 
as governor over them ; his capital was to be at 
Mizpah, which is an hour and a half s journey to the 
north-east of Jerusalem. 

Nebuchadnezzar could not have made a better 
choice. Gedaliah was a man in every way fitted for 
the difficult post ; he was gentle and peace-loving, 
having been to a certain extent the disciple of the 
prophet Jeremiah, of whom his father Ahikam had 
been the friend and protector. In order to heal the 
still bleeding wounds, a gentle hand was wanted, 
that of a man capable of complete self-devotion and 
abnegation. Gedaliah was, perhaps, too gentle, or he 
relied too much on the grateful feelings of men. Ne- 
buzaradan entrusted to him the more harmless of the 
prisoners, the daughters of King Zedekiah and many 
women and children ; he also placed under him the 
husbandmen, in all, not much above a thousand per- 
sons. Nebuchadnezzar also desired that the prophet 
Jeremiah should assist Gedaliah; he therefore ordered 


Nebuzaradan to behave considerately towards Jere- 
miah, and to grant all his wishes. 

Nebuzaradan proceeded from Jerusalem to Ramah 
(in the vicinity of which was the tomb of Rachel), in 
order to decide which of the prisoners and deserters 
should remain in their country, and which should be 
banished to Babylon. Here he released Jeremiah 
from the chains with which he, like the other prisoners, 
had been bound, and offered him the choice of 
emigrating to Babylon, where he would be kindly 
treated, or of selecting any other dwelling-place; but 
he advised him to go to Gedaliah, at Mizpah. 

Jeremiah, who had justly bewailed the lot which 
fell to him, of being selected to see the full measure 
of misery, was now forced to behold the pitiful sight of 
the captives at Ramah being led in fetters to Babylon. 
Heart-rending were the cries of the unfortunate men, 
women, and children, who were being dragged away 
from their fatherland ; Jeremiah endeavoured to 
comfort them (Jerem. xxxi. 14, seq.). 

With a heavy heart Jeremiah, attended by his 
disciple Baruch, prepared to visit Gedaliah in Mizpah. 
He had not much hope of effecting good results 
among the small remnant of the ignorant common 
people, seeing that for forty years he had striven in 
vain amongst the nobles and educated classes. How- 
ever, he determined to cast his lot with theirs. Neb- 
uchadnezzar thought so well of Jeremiah that he sent 
him gifts and money. His presence in Gedaliah's 
immediate vicinity inspired those who had remained 
in the country with greater confidence in the future. 
The governor had announced that all those fugitives 
who would collect around him would remain un- 
molested and at peace in the cities, and be permitted 
to cultivate their fields. Gradually the scattered tribes 
from Moab and the neighbouring countries who did 
not feel at ease in the places where they had settled, 
joined Gedaliah, and made peace with him ; that is 
to say, they bound themselves to be faithful subjects 
of the Chaldsean king. 


They cultivated the land, and not only grew corn, 
but also vines and figs; the soil yielded its fruits 
again, and as the population was small, the farmers, 
gardeners and vine-dressers received larger shares of 
the land, and succeeded in obtaining rich harvests. 
Several towns arose out of the ruins; in Mizpah, 
Gedaliah erected a sanctuary, as Jerusalem and the 
Temple on the Mount were destroyed and had be- 
come haunts for jackals. 

Mizpah thus became a centre of importance and a 
holy place. The half-Israelitish, half-heathen colony 
of the Cuthseans of Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria, 
recognised this sanctuary, and made pilgrimages 
thither, offering sacrifices and incense. 

"The remnant of Judah " over whom Gedaliah had 
been placed was reminded of its dependence on 
a Chaldsean ruler by the presence of the Chaldsean 
garrison. The latter not only kept watch over the 
nation, but also over the governor, in order that they 
might not engage in conspiracies. But considering 
the circumstances and the fearful misfortunes which 
had befallen the country, this state of things was 
endurable, or at least more favourable than the people 
could have expected ; they were, at any rate, in their 
own country. The military chiefs, who were weary 
of their adventurous lives in the mountains and 
deserts, and of their contests with the wild animals 
that infested the land and the yet wilder Chaldaeans, 
and who had relied on their swords and on delusive 
hopes, now determined to submit to Gedaliah. 
Johanan, son of Koreah, and his associates, laid down 
their weapons, cultivated the fields, and built up 
cities upon the ruins which until now had served 
them as hiding-places. 

The last to make peace was the leader Ishmael, 
son of Nethaniah. Ishmael was a cunning and 
unprincipled man, and an evil spirit seems to have 
accompanied him to Mizpah, to disturb the compara- 
tively favourable condition of the remnant of Judah. 


It is true that he made peace with Gedaliah and the 
Chaldaeans, and promised submission ; but in his 
heart he cherished anger and rage against both. 
Baalis, the king of Ammon, who had been opposed 
to the growth and development of a Judaean colony 
under Chaldaean protection, now instigated Ishmael 
to a crime which was to put an end to it. The 
remaining captains, and especially Johanan, the son 
of Korean, received private intelligence of Ishmael's 
treacherous intentions towards Gedaliah. They 
informed Gedaliah of the matter, placed themselves 
at his disposal, and entreated permission to put an 
end to the malefactor; but Gedaliah placed no faith 
in their warning. This confidence, whether it owed 
its cause to a feeling of power or of weakness, was 
destined to prove fatal to him and to the newly- 
organised community. 

It was about four years after the destruction 
of Jerusalem and the gathering of the scattered 
Judaeans around their governor, that Ishmael, with 
ten followers, displaying great friendliness to Geda- 
liah, arrived in Mizpah to celebrate a festival. Geda. 
liah invited them to a banquet, and whilst the assem- 
bly, perhaps under the influence of wine, anticipated 
no evil, Ishmael and his followers drew their swords 
and killed the governor, the Chaldaeans and all men 
present who were capable of bearing arms. The 
remaining people in Mizpah, old men, women, chil- 
dren, and eunuchs, he placed under the guard of his 
people, in order that his crime might not become 
known. Ishmael and his ten followers then carried 
off into captivity the inhabitants of Mizpah, for the 
most part women and children, among them the 
daughters of King Zedekiah, as also the venerable 
prophet Jeremiah and his disciple Baruch, taking 
them across the Jordan to the Ammonites. 

However, secretly though he had performed his evil 
deeds, they could not long remain unknown. Joha- 
nan and the other chiefs had received information of 


what had happened, and were not a little indignant 
at being deprived of their protector, and cast back 
into the uncertainties of an adventurous existence. 
They hurriedly armed themselves to punish the 
crime as it deserved. The murderers were met at 
their first halting-place, at the lake of Gibeon, by 
Johanan and the others, who prepared to do battle 
with them. At sight of the pursuers the prisoners 
hurried to join them. It appears that a fray ensued, in 
which two of Ishmael's followers were killed. He, 
however, escaped, with eight men, crossed the Jor- 
dan, and returned to the land of Ammon. His 
nefarious design, nevertheless, had succeeded; with 
the death of Gedaliah the Jewish commonwealth was 
broken up. 

The survivors were at a loss how to act. They 
feared to remain in their country, as it was easy to 
foresee that Nebuchadnezzar would not leave the 
death of the Chaldseans unavenged, even if he over- 
looked the murder of Gedaliah, and would punish 
them as accessories. Even had this fear been 
groundless, how could they remain in the country 
without a leader to control the unruly elements? 
Their first thought was to emigrate to Egypt. The 
chiefs, with Johanan at their head, therefore directed 
their steps southwards. As they gradually became 
calmer, the question arose whether it might not be 
more advisable to remain in the land of their fathers 
than to travel, on a venture, into a foreign country. 
It appears that the idea first suggested itself to 
Baruch, and that it was received with favour by 
some of the chiefs, whilst others were opposed to 
it. Owing to this difference of opinion concerning 
the plan on which the weal and woe of so many 
depended, the leaders determined to leave the de- 
cision to Jeremiah. He was to pray to God, and 
entreat Him for a prophetic direction as to the 
course they should adopt, calling on God to witness 
that they would abide by his word. 


Ten days Jeremiah wrestled in prayer that his 
spirit might be illumined by the true prophetic light. 
During this time the feelings of the leaders had 
changed, and they had all determined on emigra- 
tion. When Jeremiah called together the chiefs 
and all the people, and informed them that the 
prophetic spirit had revealed to him that they should 
remain in the land without fear, he saw from their 
looks that they rejected this decision. He therefore 
added the threat that, if they insisted on emigra- 
tion, the sword which they feared would the more 
surely reach them ; that none of them would ever 
again behold his fatherland, and that they would all 
perish through manifold plagues, in Egypt. Hardly 
had Jeremiah ended his address, when Jezaniah and 
Johanan called to him, " Thou proclaimest lies in 
the name of God ; not He has inspired thee with 
these words, but thy disciple Baruch." Without 
further consideration the leaders proceeded on the 
way towards Egypt, and the entire multitude had 
perforce to follow them. 

Jeremiah and Baruch also had to join the rest, for 
they could do nothing in their deserted country. 
Thus they wandered as far as the Egyptian town of 
Taphnai (Tachpanches). They were kindly received 
by King Hophra, who was sufficiently grateful to 
show hospitality towards those whom his persua- 
sions had brought to their present misery. There 
they met with older Judsean emigrants. Thus, 
more than a thousand years after the Exodus, the 
sons of Jacob returned to Egypt, but under what 
changed circumstances! At that time they had 
been powerful shepherd tribes, narrow in their views 
it is true, but unsullied and strong, with hearts 
swelling with hope. Their descendants, on the con- 
trary, with sore hearts and disturbed minds, were 
too much estranged from their principles to find 
solace and tranquillity in their God and their nation- 
ality, yet not sufficiently changed to merge them- 


selves into the other races and disappear amongst 
them. Like all unwilling emigrants, they were 
buoyed up by false hopes, and watched every polit- 
ical movement which might bring them an oppor- 
tunity to return to their country, there to live in their 
former independence. 

Meanwhile, Judaea was almost completely depopu- 
lated. Nebuchadnezzar was not inclined to treat 
the occurrences at Mizpah, the murder of Gedaliah 
and the Chaldseans with him, with indifference. He 
probably saw that it had been an error to permit a 
weak Judaean community to exist, dependent solely 
on one man. He, therefore, once more sent out the 
leader of his guards, in order to take revenge on the 
remaining Judaeans. Nebuzaradan, as a matter of 
course, found none of the leaders, nor any man of 
importance; none but the remaining agriculturists, 
gardeners, and vine-dressers. These, with their 
wives and children, being seven hundred and forty- 
five persons in all, the last remnant of the population 
of Judaea, were led to Babylonia (582) into captivity. 
This was the third banishment since Jehoiachin. 
The innocent, on this occasion also, had to suffer for 
the guilty. There is no historical record as to what 
became of Ishmael and his fellow-conspirators. Geda- 
liah's name, on the other hand, remained in the mem- 
ory of the survivors, on account of his violent death. 
The anniversary of his murder was observed in Baby- 
lonia as a fast day. Nebuchadnezzar, after Gedaliah's 
death, determined to leave no Judaean in the country, 
and Judaea remained depopulated and deserted. A 
later prophet laments over its utter desertion : " The 
holy cities have become a waste, Zion a wilderness, 
Jerusalem a desolation " (Isaiah Ixiv. 9). 

Thus the punishment which the prophets had pre- 
dicted was fulfilled. The soil of Judah could now 
rest, and celebrate the Sabbatical years which had 
been neglected so long. In the south the Idumaeans 
had appropriated some stretches of Judaean territory 


on their borders (with or without permission from 
the Babylonian king), and had extended their pos- 
sessions as far as the slope (Shephela) of the Medi- 
terranean Sea. The exiles therefore felt a bitter 
hatred against the Idumseans, who, in addition to 
plundering Jerusalem, and giving up the fugitives, 
had now seized on the land of their heritage. Two 
prophets, who had escaped from the massacre and the 
desolation, and lived amongst the exiles, gave vivid 
expression to this deplorable feeling Obadiah and an 
anonymous prophet. Both prophesied evil against 
Edom, as a retribution for its conduct towards the 
kindred nation, the Jews, and towards Jerusalem. 

Although the Judseans were everywhere coldly 
received, and their own country had become, to a 
certain extent, the property of their enemies, the 
refugees in Egypt still nursed the hope that they 
would soon return to their fatherland, and again 
inhabit it. Warlike happenings strengthened this 
hope, but the venerable prophet Jeremiah endeav- 
oured to dispel their illusions. His heart prompted 
him to speak severely to the Egyptian Judseans, 
because, unchastened by misfortunes, they had once 
more devoted themselves to the worship of the god- 
dess Neith. Despite their infatuation with strange 
gods, they yet, in their incomprehensible blindness, 
clung to the name of Jehovah, and swore by 
Him. Jeremiah, for the last time before descend- 
ing to his grave, desired to tell them that, owing 
to their unconquerable folly, they would never return 
to their fatherland. He therefore summoned the 
Judaeans of Migdol, Taphnai, Memphis, and Sais (?) 
to a general meeting at Taphnai. He still pos- 
sessed sufficient influence to ensure their obeying 
his summon?!. He put the case before thf m in plain 
language. Their idolatrous practices, however, were 
so dear to their hearts that they openly boasted of 
thqm, and told the prophet that they would not re- 
linquish them. The women were particularly aggres- 

CH. xvii. THE JUD^ANS IN EGYPT. 327 

sive: "The oath which we have taken, to offer up 
incense and wine to the queen of heaven, shall be 
kept, as we and our fathers were formerly accus- 
tomed to do in the cities of Judaea and in the 
streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had bread 
in plenty, we were happy, and saw no evil. Since 
we have left off making sacrifices to the queen of 
heaven we have been in want, and our people have 
perished by the sword or through hunger." Jere- 
miah thus answered their blasphemy: "Fulfil your 
oaths; all the men of Judah will surely die in the 
land of Egypt; only a few fugitives from the sword 
shall return from Egypt into the land of Judah. 
They shall learn whose word shall endure mine or 
theirs." As a sign, he predicted that King Hophra, 
on whom they depended, would fall into the hands 
of his enemy, as Zedekiah had lallen into the hands 
of Nebuchadnezzar. The announcement that Hophra 
would meet with a disastrous end was fulfilled. In 
a warlike expedition against Cyrene, his army was 
defeated, and his warriors, jealous of the Carians 
and lonians, whom he favoured, rebelled against 
him. An Egyptian of low caste, Amasis (Amosis), 
placed himself at the head of the rebels, conquered 
Hophra, dethroned him, and caused him to be 
strangled (571-70). This new Pharaoh, who was 
very careful to attract to himself the Egyptians and 
also to win the Greeks over to his side, took no 
interest in those Judseans who had settled in Egypt. 
They were neglected, and their dream of returning 
to their fatherland through the help of Egypt was 
dispelled. Jeremiah seems to have lived to see this 

His tender heart must have become still sadder 
in his old age, as he had not succeeded in "bringing 
forth the precious from the vile." The few Judseans 
who were around him in Egypt remained firm in 
their folly and hardness of heart. But Jeremiah had 
not toiled in vain. The seed which he had sown 


grew up plentifully on another ground, where it was 
carefully tended by his fellow-prophets. His office, 
not only to destroy, but to rebuild and plant anew, 
was carried on in another place. His disciple Baruch, 
son of Neriah, appears to have left the exiles in 
Egypt for those in Babylon, after the death of the 
prophet of Anathoth. 



Nebuchadnezzar's treatment of the Exiles The Exiles obtain grants 
of land Evil-Merodach favours Jehoiachin Number of the 
Judsean Exiles Ezekiel's captivity in the first period of the Exile 
Moral change of the People Baruch collects Jeremiah's Pro- 
phecies and compiles the Histories The Mourners of Zion 
Proselytes The Pious and the Worldly The Poetry of the 
Time Psalms and Book of Job Nabonad's Persecutions The 
Martyrs and the Prophets of the Exile The Babylonian Isaiah 
Cyrus captures Babylon The Return under Zerubbabel. 

572537 B. C. E. 

WAS it chance, or was it a special design, that 
the Judseans, who were banished to Babylonia, were 
humanely and kindly treated by the conqueror Neb- 
uchadnezzar? Is there, in fact, in the history of 
nations, and in the chain of events, such a thing as 
chance ? Can we affirm positively that the condition 
and state of mankind would have been quite unlike 
what they now are, if this or that circumstance had 
accidentally not occurred ? Can we believe that, 
whilst firm and unalterable laws govern all things in 
the kingdom of nature, the history of nations should 
be the result of mere caprice? Nebuchadnezzar's 
clemency to the people of Judah was of great im- 
portance in the historical development of that na- 
tion. The preservation of the exiles, reduced by 
much misery to a mere handful, was mainly due to 
this kindness. Nebuchadnezzar was not like those 
ruthless conquerors of earlier and later days, who 
took pleasure in wanton destruction. The desire to 
build up and to create was as dear to his heart 
as conquest. He wished to make the newly 
established Chaldsean kingdom great, populous 
and rich. His capital, Babylon, was to surpass the 


now ruined Nineveh. He built a wall round his 
city, which was nine miles in circumference, and he 
added a new town to the old one, on the eastern side 
of the river Euphrates. The conquered people, taken 
forcibly from their own homes, were transplanted 
into this new city, whilst domiciles were given to 
many Judaean captives in the capital itself, those in 
particular being favoured who had freely accepted 
Nebuchadnezzar's rule. In fact, so generous was his 
treatment that entire families and communities from 
the cities of Judaea and Benjamin, with their kindred 
and their slaves, had the privilege of remaining 
together. They were free, and their rights and cus- 
toms were respected. The families transplanted 
from Jerusalem such as the princes of the royal 
house (the sons of David), the descendants of Joab 
or the family of Pahath-Moab, the family of Parosh 
and others, formed each a special league, and were 
allowed to govern themselves after the manner of 
their family traditions. Even the slaves of the Temple 
(the Nethinim) and the slaves of the state, who had 
followed their masters into exile, lived grouped 
together according to their own pleasure. 

Most probably the exiles received land and dwell- 
ing-places in return for those which they had for- 
feited in their own country. Ihe land divided 
amongst them was cultivated by themselves or by 
their servants. They not only possessed slaves, 
but also horses, mules, camels, and asses. As long 
as they paid the tax on their lands and, perhaps, 
also a poll-tax, and obeyed the laws of the king, 
they were permitted to enjoy their independence. 
They probably clung to each other and their common 
national memories the more closely, as, like most 
exiles, they fondly cherished the hope that their re- 
turn to their own country would surely be brought 
about by some unforeseen event. One other cir- 
cumstance greatly helped them. In the Chaldsean 
kingdom the Aramaic language predominated, and 


as it was cognate with Hebrew, the exiles learnt it 
easily, and soon made themselves understood by the 
inhabitants. Even in those days the Judaeans pos- 
sessed peculiar facility for acquiring foreign lan- 
guages. The position of the Judaeans in Babylonia 
after the death of Nebuchadnezzar (561) was still 
more favourable. 

Nebuchadnezzar's son and successor, Evil-Mero- 
dach (Illorodamos) was utterly unlike his father. 
He was not courageous, nor did he love warfare, . 
and he paid little attention to the business of the 
state. Judaean youths, from the royal house of 
David, were to be found at his court as eunuchs. 
How often have these guardians of the harem, these 
servants of their master's whims, become in turn 
masters of their master. The king Evil-Merodach 
appears to have been under the influence of a Judaean 
favourite, who induced him to release the captive king 
Jehoiachin, who had been imprisoned for thirty-seven 
years. The Babylonian monarch clothed him in royal 
garments, invited him to the royal table, and supplied 
his wants most generously. When Evil-Merodach 
held his court with unusual pomp, and assembled 
all the great men of the kingdom about him, he 
raised a throne for Jehoiachin higher than the thrones 
of the other conquered kings. He wished all the 
world to know that the former king of Judaea was his 
particular favourite. 

This generosity of Evil-Merodach must have ex- 
tended in some degree to Jehoiachin's fellow-pris- 
oners, for to many of them greater freedom was 
given, whilst others, who had been kept in the strictest 
captivity on account of their enmity to Nebuchad- 
nezzar, were released. In fact, it is possible that 
Evil-Merodach might have been persuaded to allow 
the exiles to return home, with Jehoiachin as king 
of Judaea, had not his own death intervened. After 
a short reign of two years, he was murdered by his 
brother-in-law, Neriglissar (560). The dream of re- 


turning to their own country, in which some Babylo- 
nian Judseans had indulged, was thus dispelled. 
They were soon to learn the hardships of captivity. 

One of the many prophecies of the Hebrew seers 
namely, that only a small part of the people 
should be saved had been fulfilled. Insignificant 
indeed was the remnant. Of the four millions of 
souls which the children of Israel numbered in the 
reign of King David, only about a hundred thousand 
remained. Millions had fallen victims to the sword, 
famine, and pestilence, or had disappeared and been 
lost in foreign lands. But there was another side 
to the prophecies, which had not yet been realised. 
The greater number of the Judsean exiles, particularly 
those belonging to the most distinguished families, 
unchastened by the crushing blow \\hich had befallen 
their nation and their country, persisted in their obsti- 
nacy and hardness of heart. The idolatrous practices 
to which they had been addicted in their own country, 
they continued in Babylon. It was difficult indeed to 
root out the passion for idolatry from the hearts of 
the people. The heads of the families, or elders, who 
laid claim to a kind of authority over all the other 
exiles, were as cruel and as extortionate in Babylonia 
as they had been in Palestine. Regardless of those 
beneath them, they did not try to better their condi- 
tion. They chose the best and most fruitful portions 
of the lands assigned to them, leaving the worst to 
their subordinates. 

Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, the first prophet of the 
captivity (born about 620, died about 570) directed 
his prophetic ardour against the folly and obstinacy 
of the exiles. Gifted with simple, yet fiery and im- 
pressive eloquence, with a sweet and impassioned 
voice, and fully conscious of the highest ideal of 
religion and morality that the Judseans were capable 
of attaining, he spoke with courage and energy to 
his fellow-exiles. At first they treated him roughly 
(actually fettering him upon one occasion), but at 

CH. xvm. EZEKIEL. 333 

last he gained their attention, and they would gather 
round him when he prophesied. 

The elders had often entreated him to foretell the 
end of that terrible war whilst it was raging in and 
about Jerusalem, but he had been silent. Why 
should he repeat for the hundredth time that the 
city, the nation, and the Temple were to be inevitably 
destroyed? But when a fugitive announced to him 
that the threatened misfortune had become a reality, 
he broke silence. Ezekiel first addressed himself to 
the conscienceless and heartless elders, who were 
leading a comfortable existence in captivity, whilst 
they were ill-treating their unfortunate brethren. 
(Ezekiel, ch. xxxiv.) But also in another direction, 
he had to combat a false idea prevailing amongst 
the exiles. Like the rest of the prophets, Ezekiel 
had foretold with absolute certainty the ultimate 
return of the Judaeans to Palestine, but also their 
return to a purer state of morality. Many of the 
captives, however, in consequence of their repeated 
misfortunes, began to despair of the new birth of the 
nation, and looked upon it as a mere dream. They 
said, " Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost: 
we are quite cut off." The greatest of all evils is for 
a nation to despair of its future and to give up every 
hope. Ezekiel considered it a most important duty 
to banish this gloom from the hearts of his people. 
In a beautiful simile that of the dry bones restored 
to life he placed before them a picture of their new 

But there was another group of exiles who de- 
spaired of the restoration of the Judsean people. 
They felt themselves utterly crushed by their sins. 
For centuries the nation had tempted the anger of 
its God by idolatry and other misdeeds. These sins 
could not be undone, but must meet with their inev- 
itable result the death of the sinner. These unfor- 
tunate people exclaimed, " If our transgressions and 
our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how 


then should we live ?" But the prophet Ezekiel also 
combated this gloomy belief, that sin and its punish- 
ment were inseparably connected, and that crime 
must necessarily lead to the death of the sinner. In 
eloquent words, he laid before the people his con- 
solatory doctrine of the efficacy of repentance. 

Often and in varied terms Ezekiel spoke of the 
future deliverance of the exiles, and painted it in 
ideal colours. So deeply was this prophet of the 
exile impressed with the certainty of a return to the 
old order of things in his own country, that he actually 
devised a plan for the building of a new Temple, and 
for the ordering of divine service and of the priest- 
hood. Ezekiel was far from thinking that such a 
brilliant and glorious future was near at hand. The 
ideas, the feelings, and the actions which he daily 
observed in the exiles were not of a kind to justify 
such a hope. But he and other holy men helped to 
make a small beginning. Not long after the death 
of Ezekiel and Jeremiah, an unexpected change for 
the better commenced. The captivity which, not- 
withstanding the kind treatment at the hands of 
Nebuchadnezzar and his son, was attended with much 
suffering, but more especially the influence of their 
peculiar literature led to a change in the disposition 
of the people. In the very midst of the idolatrous 
abominations of the kingdoms of Ephraim and Judah, 
the flowers of a higher morality had blossomed. 
" The Spirit of God had dwelt amidst the uncleanli- 
ness of the people." The sublime thoughts of the 
prophets and the psalmists, awakened during the 
course of centuries, had not vanished into thin 
air with speech and song, but had taken root in 
some hearts, and had been preserved in writing. 
The priests of the sons of Zadok, who had never 
been idolatrous, had brought with them into cap- 
tivity the Torah (the Pentateuch) ; the disciples of 
the prophets had brought the eloquent words of 
their teachers; the Levites had brought the sublime 


Psalms; the wise men, a treasure of excellent say- 
ings; the learned had preserved the historical books. 
Treasures, indeed, had been lost, but one treasure 
remained which could not be stolen, and this the exiles 
had taken with them into a strange land. A rich, 
brilliant, and manifold literature had been carried into 
exile with them, and it became a power that taught, 
ennobled, and rejuvenated. These writings were 
replete with wonders. Had not the prophecy been 
realised to the letter, that the land of Israel would 
spew forth its people on account of their folly and 
their crimes, just as it had thrust out the Canaan- 
ites? Had not the menacing words of the prophets 
come to pass in a most fearful manner? Jeremiah 
had prophesied daily, in unambiguous words, the 
destruction of the nation, the city, and the Temple. 
Ezekiel had foretold the terrible war and subse- 
quent misery, and his words had been fulfilled ; 
and earlier still, Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, and even 
Moses had warned the people that exile and destruc- 
tion would follow upon the transgression of the Law. 
Yet in spite of all their terrible misery, the people 
were not entirely annihilated. A remnant existed, 
small indeed, and homeless, but this remnant had 
found favour in the eyes of the conquerors. It was 
clear that even in the land of their foes, God had not 
entirely rejected them; He did not " utterly abhor 
them, to destroy them and break His covenant with 

Another miracle took place before their own eyes. 
A part of the descendants of the Ten Tribes, scat- 
tered for more than a century in the Assyrian prov- 
inces, and looked upon as lost, had asserted their 
nationality. Though long separated by jealousy and 
artfully whetted hate, they approached their suffering 
brethren with cordial affection. Those Israelites 
who had dwelt in the capital of Nineveh had, with- 
out doubt, left that doomed city at the destruction of 
the Assyrian empire, and had fled to Babylonia, the 


neighbouring kingdom. Thus the words of the 
prophets were again fulfilled, " Israel and Judah shall 
dwell together in brotherly love." 

Those who were able to read eagerly studied the 
rescued manuscripts, and anxiously sought instruc- 
tion and consolation in their pages. The prophecies 
and words of Jeremiah were especially studied, their 
pathetic and elegiac tone being peculiarly adapted 
to men living in exile. Jeremiah's writings, which 
had probably been brought by Baruch from Egypt, 
became a popular book. The effect which the living 
words, fresh from the prophet's own lips, had failed 
to produce was accomplished by the written letter. 
The spirit of the prophets passed into the souls of 
their readers, filled them with hopes and ideals, and 
prepared them for a change of mind. 

In order to make the conversion a lasting one, 
the spiritual leaders of the people chose a new 
method of instruction. One of them, probably Ba- 
ruch, wrote (about 555) a comprehensive historical 
work for his readers, relating the events from the 
creation of the world and the commencement of Israel 
as a nation down to the time when Jehoiachin was 
released from his prison, and loaded with marks of 
the royal favour. This collection embraced the Torah 
(Law), the Book of Joshua, the histories of the Judges, 
of Samuel, Saul and David. To these Baruch added 
his own redaction of the history of the Kings from 
Solomon to Jehoiachin, whose downfall he himself 
had witnessed. He gave his own colouring to these 
events, in order to demonstrate that the decline of the 
kingdom, from the death of Solomon, was owing to 
the apostasy of the king and the people. 

The historical work that Baruch compiled has 
no equal. It is simple, yet rich in matter and 
instructive, unaffected yet artistic; but above all 
things it is vivid and impressive. It was the second 
national work of the Babylonian exiles, and they 
not only read it with interest, but took it to heart, 

CH. xvni. BARUCH. 337 

and listened to its lessons. Levitical scribes ap- 
plied themselves to copying it. This literature gave 
a new heart to the people, and breathed a new spirit 
into them. What Ezekiel had commenced, Jere- 
miah's disciple, Baruch, continued. 

Influenced by the study of these writings, the exiles 
began to devote themselves to self-examination. 
This was followed by contrition for their constant 
disobedience and idolatry. Those who were moved 
to penitence by the consciousness of their great sins 
longed to wash away the bitter past in tears of re- 
pentance. They acknowledged that all the misfor- 
tunes that had befallen them were well deserved, 
for just as " the Lord of Hosts had purposed to do 
unto them according to their ways and according to 
their doings, so had He dealt with them." Many 
atoned sincerely ; four days in the year were set apart, 
at first by a few, and later on by a large number of 
exiles, as days of mourning. These occasions were 
the anniversaries of Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jeru- 
salem in the tenth month, of the conquest of Jeru- 
salem in the fourth month, of the destruction of 
Jerusalem in the fifth month, and of Gedaliah's 
assassination in the seventh month. At these times 
it became customary for the people to fast and 
lament, wear garments of mourning, sit in ashes and 
bow their heads in deep contrition. These days of 
mourning heralded the people's awakening; they 
were signs of repentance, and the first institution of 
national anniversaries after the captivity. This keen 
feeling of remorse gave birth to a new kind of psalm, 
which we may call the Penitential Psalm. Those 
who had forsaken their evil ways in turn converted 
others; former sinners showed other evil-doers the 
way to God. The number of the faithful, " those 
who were eager for God's word," those " who sought 
after God," thus gradually increased. Naturally, 
the Patient Sufferers (Anavim) formed the nucleus 
of this new party. They mourned the destruction of 


Jerusalem and its former glory; they were " contrite 
in heart," and " meek in spirit." They bore outward 
signs of mourning, and called themselves " the 
mourners of Zion." With them were associated 
members of noble families, who held some office or 
dignity at the Babylonian court. All their thoughts 
dwelt upon Jerusalem. They loved the stones of 
the Holy City, and longed to see its very ruins, lying 
in the dust. (Psalm cxx. 14-15.) The Levite, who, in 
the name of his companions in captivity, described 
so poetically this faithful remembrance of Jerusalem, 
gave utterance, in the i37th Psalm, to the sentiments 
of " the mourners of Zion." 

While praying for deliverance or confessing 
their sins, the mourners turned their faces towards 
Jerusalem, as if the place where the Temple had 
once stood were still holy, and as if only thence 
a merciful answer to their supplications were to 
be expected. As those "eager for God's word" 
would not offer up sacrifices in a strange land, they 
accustomed themselves to look upon prayer as a 
substitute for sacrifice. Three times a day, a number 
of persons forming a congregation met for this pur- 
pose. The House of Prayer took the place of the 
Temple. It was probably the penitential psalms and 
the psalms of mourning that were sung in these 
houses of prayer, and were composed for them. 

The enthusiasm for Jerusalem, for the deliverance 
from captivity, and for the Law, was fanned to a 
brighter flame by the astounding fact that some of 
the heathen population accepted the doctrines of the 
exiles, and entered into their covenant. Only the 
enthusiasm of the exiles could have effected this won- 
derful phenomenon. Zeal of a self-sacrificing, self- 
forgetting nature is a magic power which kindles 
enthusiasm. It was comparatively easy, by contrast- 
ing the Judsean doctrine of one sublime, spiritual God 
with the childish image-worship of the Chaldseans, to 
make the latter appear ridiculous. The Judsean, fully 

CH. xviii. THE PROSELYTES. 339 

conscious of the majesty of his God, could ill restrain 
his derision, or withhold a smile of contempt at the 
sight of a Babylonian workman carving an image out 
of wood, praying to it for help in adversity, and then 
kindling with the rest of the material a fire, at 
which he warmed himself, or over which he baked 
his bread and cooked his meat. In this way many 
who heard of the great name of the God of Israel 
forsook their own false belief, and associated them- 
selves with a people that professed a totally different 
religion. These newly-won proselytes, after their 
conversion, kept the Sabbath, obeyed the statutes, and 
even submitted to the rite of circumcision. This, 
the first achievement of the exiles during the Cap- 
tivity, exercised a reflex influence upon the Judeeans. 
They began to love their God and their Law with far 
greater fervour, as soon as they discovered that 
heathens had been won to their side. This regen- 
eration was effected before two decades had elapsed 
since the death of the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel. 

The now accessible literature, the Torah and the 
Prophets, was a rejuvenating fountain, refreshing 
the spirit and softening the heart. However, this 
new spirit, by which the nation was inspired, had to 
be tried and tested, and the hour of probation was at 

Some of the most distinguished families amongst the 
Judseans adhered to their old abominations, and in 
addition adopted many of the errors of their heathen 
neighbours. The giant capital Babylon and the vast 
Chaldaean empire exercised a magical charm over 
those " who stood highest " among the exiles, tempting 
them into imitating the Chaldaean customs, opening 
a wide horizon before them, and giving them the 
opportunity of developing their talents. The products 
of the soil and the artistic fabrics of Babylonia, which 
were eagerly sought after and largely exported, 
formed the staples of a flourishing commerce. Thus 
the former merchants of Judah were able, not only to 


continue their calling, but to follow it more actively. 
They undertook frequent journeys for the purpose of 
buying and selling, and began to accumulate great 
riches. In a luxurious country wealth produces luxury. 
The rich Judaeans imitated the effeminate life of the 
Babylonians, and even began to profess their idolatrous 
beliefs. To ensure the success of their commercial 
undertakings, they prepared a table with food for 
the god of Good Fortune (Gad), and filled the 
pitcher of wine for the goddess of Fate (Meni). So 
completely did the wealthy exiles identify themselves 
with the Babylonians, that they entirely forgot Judah 
and Jerusalem, which until lately had been the goal 
of their desires. They could not bear to think of 
their return ; they wished to be Babylonians, and 
looked with contempt upon the fanatical lovers of 
their own land. The two rival parties, which hated 
each other, were represented, on the one hand, by 
men of zeal and piety, and on the other, by men of 
worldliness and self-indulgence. The earnest-minded 
Judaeans, who were full of fervour for their cause, 
attempted to influence their brethren, whose religious 
views and conduct were so widely opposed to their 
own. To this effort we are indebted for a new 
poetical literature which almost excelled the old. 
The last twenty years of the Captivity were more pro- 
ductive even than the times of Hezekiah. The men 
of genius, disciples of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who had 
so thoroughly absorbed the spirit of their literature 
that their own souls were brought into harmony with 
it, now produced fruitful thoughts of their own, 
clothed in elegant forms. An apparently inexhaust- 
ible fountain of poetry flowed once more in a strange 
land, in the very midst of the sufferings of captivity. 
The Hebrew language, so lovingly fostered by the 
exiles in their Aramaic home, was the language of 
their poetic works. New psalms, maxims of wisdom, 
and prophetical discourses followed each other in rapid 
succession. A poet of that time collected a number 


of proverbs, written at a much earlier date, and in the 
prefatory chapters which he affixed to them he gave 
a true picture of the age. He was an acute observer 
of human failings and their consequences, and his 
work is an eloquent exposition of practical ethics. 
If he could but bring the worldly-minded to listen 
to his teaching, he argued, they might be induced 
to abandon their evil ways. The leading idea of 
this poet is that the beginning of wisdom is the fear 
of God, and the fear of God, the safeguard against 
corruption ; sin is folly, and causes the death of the 
sinner; even the prosperity of fools kills them, and 
their happiness destroys them. But what reward is 
there in store for the pious or the wise who suffer ? 

To this question our poet, like the psalmists 
of the exiled congregation, had no other answer 
than that "The just will inhabit the land again, 
and the pious shall dwell in it once more." But if 
this sufficed for the God-fearing people and the 
mourners of Zion, it was not sufficient to comfort 
and satisfy the weak in faith, still less could it 
alter the feelings of those who had forgotten the Holy 
Mountain, and whose hearts clave to Babylonia. For it 
was evident that the sinners enjoyed prosperity, and 
that those who feared God and remained true to their 
ideals were often unhappy and unfortunate. This 
discord in the moral order of the world demanded 
a satisfactory explanation. Doubts arose as to the 
justice of God, and as to the truth of the teachings 
of the fathers, and these misgivings were bitterly felt 
by the Babylonian Judsean community. 

A poet undertook the solution of these distressing 
questions, and he created a work of art which is 
ranked among the most perfect ever conceived by a 
human mind. This unknown author composed the 
book of Job, a work which was to dispel the gloomy 
thoughts of his contemporaries. Like the psalms 
and the proverbs, it also was intended to convey 
instruction, but its method was different. In a 


solemn but most interesting conversation between 
friends, the question that kept the Babylonian com- 
munity in painful suspense was to be decided. This 
dialogue is not carried on in a dry and pedantic way ; 
the author has made it singularly attractive in form, 
expression, and poetical diction. The story of the 
patient Job, fascinating from beginning to end, is the 
groundwork of the dialogue. The arrangement of 
the poem is artistic throughout; the ideas that the 
author wished to make clear are allotted to different 
speakers. Each person in the dialogue has a distinct 
character and remains true to it. In this way the dia- 
logue is lively, and the thoughts therein developed 
command attention. 

Meanwhile events took place in Babylonia and Asia 
Minor that were to decide the fate of the exiles. 
Neriglissar, the successor of their protector, Evil- 
Merodach, was dead, and had left a minor to succeed 
him. But this young prince was killed by the Baby- 
lonian nobles, one of whom, named Nabonad, seized 
the throne (555). A few years previous to that date, 
a Persian warrior, the hero Cyrus, had dethroned the 
Median king Astyages, taken possession of his king- 
dom with its capital, Ecbatana, and subdued the prov- 
inces belonging to it. 

The pious and the enthusiasts among the Babylo- 
nian Judaeans did not fail to recognise in these events 
favourable signs for themselves. They appear to 
have entreated Nabonad to free them from captivity, 
and permit them to return to Judaea. They must 
have been encouraged to hope for the realisation of 
their wishes by the fact that Merbal, a noble Phoenician 
exile of the royal house, had been permitted by Nabo- 
nad to return to and rule over his own country, and after 
his death, his brother Hiram was allowed to succeed 
him. It was not improbable, therefore, that Nabonad 
would confer the same favour upon his Judaean sub- 
jects. Shealtiel, the son of King Jehoiachin, prob- 
ably urged this request upon the usurper, and doubt- 


less the Judaean favourites at the Babylonian court 
warmly espoused his cause. But Nabonad was as 
loth to let the exiles leave his country as Pharaoh had 
been of old to dismiss the Israelites from Egypt. 
This frustration of their hope, or rather this discrimi- 
nation against them, enkindled in the patriotic exiles 
a burning hatred of Babylonia and its monarch. The 
old wounds burst open anew. Babylon was loathed 
as Edom had been in former ages. Such violent 
hatred was probably not controlled, but found ex- 
pression in speech and action. The speedy downfall 
of this sinful country, teeming with idolatry and im- 
morality, seemed certain to the Judseans. They fol- 
lowed with intense interest the warlike progress of 
the hero Cyrus, because they foresaw that a conflict 
was imminent between the Medo-Persian empire 
and Babylonia. Cyrus had directed his weapons 
against the Lydian kingdom of Croesus, who had 
made an offensive and defensive alliance with Na- 
bonad of Babylonia, and Amasis, king of Egypt. 
Well aware that they, in turn, would be attacked, 
these monarchs tried to gain strength by alliance. 
But this served only to incite the Persian conqueror 
to destroy the sooner the independence of Babylonia. 
Did any of the Judsean favourites at the Babylonian 
court, or any of the converted heathens open secret 
negotiations with Cyrus? The kindness shown later 
on to the Judseans by the Persian warrior, and their 
persecution by Nabonad, lead to the supposition that 
such was the case. 

Nabonad's persecutions were first directed against 
the patriotic and pious exiles; severe punishments 
were decreed against them, which were cruelly put 
into execution. It seemed as if the staunchest of the 
nation were to be proved and tried, as Job had been, 
by suffering. Upon some, heavy labour was im- 
posed, from which even the aged were not exempt. 
Others were shut up in dungeons, or were whipped, 
beaten, and insulted. Those who dared speak of 


their speedy deliverance through Cyrus were doomed 
to a martyr's death, to which they submitted fearlessly. 
A contemporary prophet, who witnessed the per- 
secution, or, perhaps, was one of its victims, described 
it in harrowing words. Considering the sufferers as 
the wards of the people, he speaks of their terrible 
anguish as being that of the entire national body : 

"He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and 
acquainted with grief. .... He was oppressed, although he was 
submissive, yet he opened not his mouth ; he is brought as a lamb 
to the slaughter ; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he 
openeth not his mouth. Through prison and through judicial pun- 
ishment was he taken away." (ISAIAH liii. 3, 7.) 

The suffering of the Judseans in Babylonia, at 
that time, closely resembled the persecution of their 
ancestors in Egypt. But there was this difference: 
in Egypt all Israelites alike were subjected to slavery 
and forced labour in the fields and on buildings, 
whilst in Babylonia the dungeon and death awaited 
those exiles only who refused to abjure their nation- 
ality and their religion. Psalm cii., composed at this 
time, pictures the sombre mood of one of these 
victims of persecution, relieved, however, by the 
hope of future deliverance. The Judseans who 
were threatened with imprisonment and torture fol- 
lowed the victories of Cyrus with anxious interest. 
Several prophets now appeared, who announced, to 
the consolation of the sufferers, the downfall of 
Babylon, and the speedy deliverance of the exiles. 
Two of them have left us prophecies that are un- 
surpassed ; indeed, one of those writers manifested 
so boundless a wealth of eloquence and poetry, that 
his works rank among the most beautiful in litera- 
ture. When Cyrus at length commenced the long- 
planned siege of Babylon, and the anxious expecta- 
tions of the exiles had grown harrowing, this prophet, 
with his gift of glowing eloquence, uplifted and in- 
structed his people. 

If the perfection of a work of art consists in the 
fact that the ideas and the language are in true 


harmony with each other, and that the latter makes 
the abstruse thought clear and intelligible, then the 
speech or series of speeches of this prophet, whom, 
in ignorance of his real name, we call the second, or 
the Babylonian Isaiah, form an oratorical work of 
art without a parallel. Here are combined richness 
of thought, beauty of form, persuasive power and 
touching softness, poetic fervour and true simplicity, 
and all this is expressed in such noble language and 
warm colouring that, although intended for the period 
only in which they were composed, they will be 
understood and appreciated in all time. 

The Babylonian Isaiah wished to comfort his suffer- 
ing Judaean brethren, and, at the same time, to give 
them a high aim. The suffering Jewish tribe as 
well as all those who have minds to comprehend 
and hearts to feel, whatever their race and lan- 
guage may be, can find in this prophet the solution 
of a problem, the correctness of which history has 
proven. He showed how a nation can be small 
yet great, wretched and hunted to death yet im- 
mortal, at one and the same moment a despised 
slave and a noble exemplar. Who was this prophet, 
at once a great thinker and a great poet? He says 
not a word about himself, and there are no records 
of his life. The collectors of the prophetical writ- 
ings, finding that in eloquence and sublimity his 
words resembled those of Isaiah, added them to the 
prophecies of the older seer, and included them in 
the same scroll. 

No one could console the sorrowing Judsean com- 
munity with such sympathy, or encourage it with 
such ardour as the Prophet of the Captivity. His 
words are like balm upon a burning wound, or like a 
gentle breeze upon a fevered brow. 

"Comfort ye," he begins, "comfort ye, comfort ye my people, 
saith your God. Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and cry unto 
her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned ; 
tor she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins." 



The exhausted and despairing community was 
described by this prophet as a wife and mother who 
had been rejected, and robbed of her children on 
account of her sins, but who still is dear to her 
husband as the beloved of his youth. This deserted 
one he calls "Jerusalem," the emblem of all that 
was tender to his soul. He exclaims to the forlorn 
mother : 

"Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the 
hand of the Lord the cup of his fury. Thou hast drunken the dregs 
of the cup of trembling and wrung'them out. 

" There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath 
brought forth, neither is there any that taketh her by the hand, of all 

the sons that she has brought up O thou afflicted, tossed with 

tempest, and not comforted, behold I will lay thy stones with fair 
colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires, and I will make thy 
windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders 
of precious stones, and all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, 
and great shall be the peace of thy children 

" As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, and 
ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem." 

But where is this consolation to be found? Not 
in the hope of vain, worldly glory, not in might 
and power, but in an all-embracing salvation. This 
prophet of the Captivity was the first who clearly 
grasped and demonstrated that a creed of general 
salvation was promised through Abraham to future 
generations. The past was to be forgotten and 
forgiven; a new social order was to spring up; 
heaven and earth were to be re-created. All people 
from all the ends of the earth would be included 
in this universal salvation, and every knee would 
bend and every tongue swear homage to the God 
adored by Israel. It was for this purpose that 
Abraham had been called from a distant land, and 
that his descendants had been chosen before their 
birth. God had created the people of Israel to be 
His servant among nations, His messenger to all 
people, His apostle from the beginning of the 

The prophet describes this apostolic people in 


poetry of such transcendental beauty that it becomes 
an ideal. And is there any mission sublimer than 
that of being the vanguard of the nations in the 
path of righteousness and salvation ? Was Israel 
not to be proud of having been chosen for such a 
duty? The prophet goes on to say how this ideal 
nation was to realise its apostolic mission : 

"Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul 
delighteth ; I have put my spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judg- 
ment to the Gentiles. He shall, not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his 
voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, 
and the smoking flax shall he not quench ; he shall bring forth judg- 
ment into truth." (ISAIAH xlii. 1-4.) 

The Law of God was thus to be universally ac- 
knowledged, and the messenger of God was to 
bring about this acknowledgment by his own ex- 
ample, in spite of scorn, contempt, and persecution. 
This, Israel's recognised mission, the prophet of the 
Captivity explained briefly, in words supposed to be 
spoken by the nation itself (Isaiah xlix. 1-6). He 
taught that martyrdom, bravely encountered and 
borne with gentle resignation, would ensure victory 
to the law of righteousness, which Israel, if true to its 
ideals, was to promulgate. The leading conception 
that runs through Isaiah's poetical monologue was 
thus expressed by the prophet in the short but effec- 
tive verse: 

"For mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all 
peoples." (ISAIAH Ivi. 7.) 

The fall of the Babylonian empire, with its absurd 
and immoral idolatry, and the deliverance of the 
Judaean community were to be the first steps in this 
great work of universal salvation. The fall of Babylon 
seemed indeed inevitable to the prophet, so that he 
spoke of it as of an accomplished fact, and not as a 
subject of prophetic vision. 

He apostrophized Babylon in a satirical song of 
masterly perfection (Is. xlvii.) ; he derided the astro- 


logical science by which the Babylonian sages boasted 
that they could raise the veil from the future; he 
treated the coarse idolatry of the Chaldseans with more 
bitter irony than any of his predecessors had done. 
He foretold the siege of the city by Cyrus, and declared 
that the Persian conqueror would give freedom to the 
Judaean and Israelitish exiles; that they would return 
to their country and rebuild J erusalem and the Temple. 
The prophet laid great stress upon these predic- 
tions, declaring that in their realisation Divine Provi- 
dence would be manifest. Cyrus was but an instru- 
ment of God for furthering the deliverance of Judah 
and the salvation of the world. 

For the sake of the exiles, the wonders of the 
exodus from Egypt would be renewed, every moun- 
tain and hill would be made level, springs would 
gush forth in the wilderness, and the desert 
would become a blooming garden. The exiles would 
raise Jerusalem from its ruins, and live in their 
beloved city in peace and comfort. But in spite of 
his reverence for Jerusalem, the prophet declared 
that the Divine Being was too great to be pictured 
as dwelling within a temple, however spacious it 
might be, but that each human heart should be a 
temple dedicated to God. 

"Thus says the Lord: The heaven is my throne, and the earth is 
my footstool : where is the house that ye build unto me ; and where 
is the place of my rest? For all these things hath mine hand made, 
saith the Lord ; but to this man will I look, to him that is poor and 
of a contrite spirit and trembleth at my word." (ISAIAH Ixvi. I.) 

The exiles, purged and truly pious, adopted this 
thought, and embodied it in Solomon's prayer : 

"Behold, the heaven of heavens contain Thee not ; how much less 
a temple." (I KINGS viii. 27.) 

Unfortunately, in spite of the beautiful words of 
the prophet of the Captivity, the servant of God 
declined to accept this apostolic work, and remained 
blind and deaf. Instead of making the Law of God 


beloved, he made it contemptible, and became con- 
temptible himself. 

The ideal and the real being thus at variance with 
each other, the prophet felt that his mission was 
to preach, to exhort, to denounce and to arouse. The 
Judeean community in the Captivity was now more 
than ever divided into two camps : on the one side 
were the pious and patriotic ; on the other, the worldly 
and the callous. The former, who had become timid 
and despondent from continued persecution and 
suffering, dared not come forward at this anxious 
time to oppose their persecutors ; they were oppressed 
by the sorrowful thought that God had forsaken His 
people and had forgotten them, whilst their enemies 
called out mockingly, " Let the Lord be glorified and 
we will see your joy." (Isaiah Ixvi. 5.) Now the 
aim of the great unknown prophet was to encourage 
the one class to action, and to move the other to 
penitence and improvement. He announced that 
God's salvation was at hand, and that if the worldly 
and selfish persisted in their evil ways, they would 
reap the punishment of their sins, whilst the pious 
would be rewarded with undimmed happiness. He 
finally depicted the coming deliverance and the return, 
when all the scattered of Judah and Israel would 
assemble on the holy mount of Jerusalem. 

The king Nabonad and the Babylonian people 
probably felt less anxiety about the result of the 
war between Persia and Babylon than did the Judsean 
exiles. For the Judaeans were alternating between 
the highest hopes and the most desponding fears ; 
the preservation or the downfall of the Jewish race 
hung upon the issue of this war. The Babylonians, 
on the contrary, looked with indifference, it might be 
said, upon all of Cyrus's preparations. But one night, 
when they were dancing and carousing at one of 
their orgies, a large and powerful army appeared 
before the bastions of the city. The Babylonians 
were utterly unprepared for resistance, and when 


day broke, Babylon was filled with the enemy. Thus, 
as the prophet had foretold, the city of Babylon fell 
(539), but the king and the people escaped their pre- 
dicted doom. Cyrus was a humane conqueror. 

The disgusting idolatry of the Babylonians was up- 
rooted when their city was taken. The religion of 
the victorious Persians and Medes was pure in com- 
parison with that of the Babylonians. They wor- 
shipped only two or three gods, and abhorred the 
image-worship of the Babylonians, and perhaps de- 
stroyed their idols. 

The fall of Babylon cured the Judsean community 
radically and for all time of idolatry. For the exiles 
saw that those highly honoured images were now 
lying in the dust, that Bel was on his knees, that 
Nebo was humbled, and that Merodach had fallen. 
The destruction of Babylon completed the regenera- 
tion of the Judsean people, and their hard hearts be- 
came softened. From that time all, even the worldly- 
minded and the sinners, clung to their God. For, had 
they not learned how His word, spoken by the mouth 
of His prophets, had been fulfilled ? The sufferers 
and the mourners of Zion were no longer objects of 
hatred and contempt, but were, on the contrary, 
treated with veneration, and placed at the head of 
the community. 

No sooner had Babylon fallen than the pious and 
patriotic party took steps towards realising the pre- 
dicted deliverance and return of the exiles. Cyrus, hav- 
ing taken possession of the throne and of the palace, 
declared himself king of Babylonia and the successor 
of her former monarchs, dating his reign from the 
fall of Babylon (B. c. 538). The servants of the palace, 
who had crouched and trembled before Nabonad, now 
became servants of Cyrus. Amongst them were also 
eunuchs of the royal family of Judaea, who had remained 
true to their faith. They as well as some converted 
heathens, who had joined the Judaean community, 
tried to obtain from Cyrus the freedom of their fellow- 


believers. In this they were probably aided by Zerub- 
babel, the grandson of King Jehoiachin. Those 
Judaeans who had been imprisoned on account of the 
devotion with which they clung to their faith were 
set free at once. But Cyrus went still further, for 
he permitted the Judaeans to return to their own 
country, rebuild Jerusalem, and restore the Temple. 
Together with Babylon, all the provinces conquered 
by Nebuchadnezzar, westward from the Euphrates 
to the Mediterranean sea, and southward from Leb- 
anon and Phoenicia to the confines of Egypt, fell 
beneath Cyrus's sway. Judaea, therefore, belonged 
to the Persian kingdom. But what reasons could 
have been given to the mighty conqueror for the bold 
request that he should allow the Judaeans to have an 
independent government? And what could have 
induced Cyrus to grant this request so generously ? 
Was it the gratification of a momentary caprice, or 
indifference to a strip of land, of which he probably 
knew not even the name, and of whose historical 
importance he was certainly ignorant? Or had one 
of the Judaean eunuchs, as was afterwards related, 
described to the Persian conqueror how a Judaean 
prophet had foretold his victories, and had pro- 
phesied that he would let a banished people return 
to their home ? Or was he so deeply impressed by 
the faith of the Judaeans, for which they had borne so 
much suffering, that he was induced to favour its 
adherents? The true reason for his decision is un- 
known, but Cyrus not only granted permission to the 
Judaeans to return to their country, but he restored 
to the exiles the sacred vessels belonging to the 
Temple, which Nebuchadnezzar had seized and placed 
as trophies of victory in the temple of Bel. 

As soon as the permission for the return had been 
granted, a group of men undertook the organisation 
of the returning exiles. The leadership was entrusted 
to two men of about the same age, and of distinguished 
lineage, Zerubbabel, called in Babylon Sheshbazzar, 


the son of Shealtiel, and grandson of king Jehoiachin, 
hence a scion of David's house, and Joshua, the son 
of Jehozedek, and grandson of the last high-priest 
Seraiah. They were joined by ten men, so that they 
formed a company of twelve, representing, to a cer- 
tain extent, the twelve tribes. Cyrus invested Zerub- 
babel with the office of governor or regent (Pechah) 
of the province which the exiles were to re-occupy, 
the appointment being in reality a stepping-stone to 
royal honours. All the Judaeans who were to return 
to their own country addressed themselves to these 

Compared with those who had once gone out of 
Egypt, the number of those who now returned was 
very small, but still there were more than might have 
been expected, 42,360 men, women and children, 
counting from the age of twelve. The greater 
number belonged to the two tribes of Judah and 
Benjamin ; there were a few Aaronides and Levites. 
Besides, the march was joined by some from the 
other tribes and from other nations, who acknow- 
ledged the God of Israel (Gerim, Proselytes). 

The joy of those who were preparing for the exo- 
dus from Babylon and the return to the Holy Land was 
overpowering. To be permitted to tread the soil of 
their own country, and to rebuild and restore the 
sanctuary seemed a sweet dream to them. The 
event caused great sensation amongst other nations; 
it was discussed, and considered as a miracle, which 
the God of Israel had wrought on behalf of His 
people. A poem faithfully reproduces the senti- 
ments that inspired the exiles: 

" When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like 
them that dream. 

" Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with 
singing ; then said they among the nations, The Lord hath done 
great things for them. 

" The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad." 
(Ps. cxxvi.) 

As the patriots were preparing to make use of 


their freedom to return to Jerusalem, one of their 
poets, in Psalm xxiv., bade them reflect whether they 
were worthy of this boon. For only the righteous 
and those who sought the Lord were to assemble 
upon God's ground. But who would dare take on 
himself the right to pronounce judgment? 



The Journey to Jerusalem The Samaritans Commencement of the 
Rebuilding of the Temple Interruption of the Work Darius 
Haggai and Zechariah Completion of the Temple Contest 
between Zerubbabel and Joshua Intermarriage with Heathens 
Thejudasansin Babylonia Ezra visits Jerusalem Dissolution 
of the Heathen Marriages The Book of Ruth Attacks by San- 
ballat Nehemiah His Arrivalin Jerusalem Fortification of the 
Capital Sanballat's Intrigues against Nehemiah Enslavement 
of the Poor Nehemiah's Protest Repopulation of the Capital 
The Genealogies The Reading of the Law The Feast of 
Tabernacles The Great Assembly The Consecration Depar- 
ture of Nehemiah Action of Eliashib Withholding the Tithes 
Malachi.the Last of the Prophets Nehemiah's Second Visit 
to Jerusalem His measures. 

537 420 B. c. E. 

AFTER forty-nine years of exile, in the same month 
(Nisan) in which their ancestors had departed from 
Egypt some eight or nine centuries before, the 
Judseans now left the land of Babylonia. It was the 
spring of the year (537) when they marched forth 
to take possession of their dearly-beloved home, of 
the much longed-for Jerusalem. It was a significant 
moment, carrying thousands of years in its bosom. 
Not like trembling slaves, j'ust freed from their chains, 
did they go forth, but full of gladness, their hearts 
beating high with lofty hopes and swelling with en- 
thusiasm. Singers, with stringed instruments and 
cymbals, accompanied them on their way, and they 
uttered new songs of praise, beginning and ending 
with the words : 

"Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endur- 
eth for ever." 

Those Judseans who remained in Babylonia and 
they were not a few rich merchants and landed 


proprietors evinced their sympathy for their breth- 
ren by escorting them part of the way, and by pre- 
senting them with rich gifts for the new buildings 
in their own country. Cyrus sent an escort of a 
thousand mounted soldiers to defend the Judaeans 
from the attacks of predatory tribes upon the way, 
and also to ensure their being able to take posses- 
sion of Judaea. The prophecy but lately spoken was 
now to be realised: 

" In joy shall ye depart, and in peace shall ye be led home." 

(ISAIAH Iv. 12.) 

In peace and in safety the travellers completed 
the six hundred miles from Babylonia to Judaea, pro- 
tected by the Persian escort. The exodus from Baby- 
lonia, unlike the one from Egypt, has left no remi- 
niscences; it seemed needless to record the various 
halting-places, as, in all probability, no noteworthy 
incident occurred on the way. 

" God led them by the right path, and brought them to the place 
of their longing." (PSALM cvii. 7, 30.) 

When the travellers approached the land of their 
passionate desire, after a march of four or five months, 
their joy must have been overwhelming. The prophe- 
cies that had been uttered, the hopes they had cher- 
ished, the visions they had indulged in were realised. 
Meanwhile their happiness was not undimmed. The 
Holy City, the chief object of their longing, was 
desolate. A great part of the country was inhabited 
by strangers ; in the north were the Samaritans, or 
Cuthaeans, in the south, the Idumaeans. But these 
races were soon obliged to give place to the descen- 
dants of Judah, who, with the tribe of Benjamin, 
returned to their ancient dwelling-places. The begin- 
ning of the new Judaean commonwealth was indeed 
humble and small. The people could not occupy the 
whole of the country which had once constituted the 
kingdom of Judah. A population of 40,000 was not 


numerous enough to settle a large territory. The 
colony was thus compelled to group itself round the 
capital at Jerusalem. This concentration of forces 
was, in some respects, advantageous, inasmuch as 
the whole population, being thus brought near to 
the capital, could take part in all its affairs. But, 
though the extremely confined territory of the new 
colony, and the small number of members in the 
community were calculated to depress the lofty hopes 
that their prophets in Babylonia had awakened, and 
fill the arrivals with gloom, unexpected circumstances 
arose to reinspire them with energy. From many 
countries to the east, west, south, and north, from 
Egypt, Phoenicia, and even from the Greek coasts 
and islands, whither they had gone of their own 
free will or had been sold as slaves, Juda^an exiles 
streamed back to crowd like children around their 
resurrected mother, Jerusalem. These new Jewish 
arrivals were accompanied by large numbers of 
strangers, both "great and small," illustrious and 
obscure, who collected round them. They were re- 
ceived with rejoicing, for they all acknowledged the 
God of Israel, and were ready to follow His laws. 
These new proselytes not only added strength to the 
young community, but also inspired the settlers with 
greater self-reliance, who, with their own eyes, saw 
the words of the prophets fulfilled. 

At the approach of the seventh month, in which, 
according to law and custom, various festivals occur, 
the elders of the families among all classes in Jeru- 
salem assembled, and, marching under the command 
of their two leaders, the governor Zerubbabel and 
the high-priest Joshua, they proceeded to perform the 
first act of reconstruction they erected an altar of 
stone. This altar was to be the nucleus of the 
Temple, the building of which was, for the present, 

While the altar was dedicated with joyous and 
solemn ceremonies, the leaders were making prepa- 


rations for the erection of this great and important 
edifice, which was to be the spiritual centre of the 
new commonwealth. The rich gifts which they 
had brought with them enabled them to hire labour- 
ers and artisans, and, as in the days of King Solo- 
mon, cedar trees were procured from Lebanon ; 
stone was brought from the mountains, and after 
enough had been quarried and shaped, steps were 
taken to lay the foundations of the Sanctuary. Not 
only Zerubbabel and Joshua, but also the heads of 
families, and a large number of the people were 
present at this ceremony, which was performed with 
great solemnity. The Aaronides again appeared in 
their priestly garments, sounding their trumpets ; 
the Levites of the house of Asaph chanted songs of 
praise, thanking the Lord whose mercy endures for 
ever; and the people burst forth into a loud trans- 
port of joy. Yet there mingled with the jubilant 
notes the voice of regret that the new Temple was 
smaller and less magnificent than the old. 

Jerusalem, so long mourned and wept over, began 
to rise from her ruins. The joyful enthusiasm called 
forth by the re-building of the city was, however, soon 
to be damped; the honeymoon of the young com- 
monwealth waned rapidly, and anxious cares began 
to disturb its peace. Close to the boundaries of Judaea 
lived the mixed tribe of Samaritans or Cuthaeans. 
These people had in part accepted the doctrines taught 
them by an Israelitish priest at Bethel, but they had 
also retained many of their own idolatrous practices. 
Quite unexpectedly, some of the Samaritan chiefs 
came to Jerusalem, with the request that they might 
be allowed to help in re-building the Temple, and also 
that they be received into the Judaean community. This 
seemed so important a matter to the Judaeans, that 
a council was convoked to discuss the subject. The 
decision was against the Samaritans. Zerubbabel 
informed the Samaritan chiefs that their people 
neither would nor could be permitted to join in the 


re-building of the Temple. This decision was of 
great import for the entire future of the new com- 
monwealth. From that day the Samaritans began 
to develop a hostile spirit against the Judaeans, which 
seemed to show that they had been less anxious to 
take part in the temple-service than to injure the 
community and to obstruct the re-building of the 
Temple. On the one hand, they tried to make those 
Judaeans with whom they came in contact lukewarm 
towards the project of building the Temple, and, on 
the other, they persuaded Persian officials to interfere 
with its execution, so that the work ceased for fully 
fifteen years. Again the Jews found themselves 
suffering evils similar to those which they had ex- 
perienced after their first entry into Canaan. The 
neighbouring tribes envied them their strip of land, 
on all sides they encountered hostility. They were 
powerless to defend themselves, for they lacked the 
means for carrying on war. 

In these untoward circumstances the members of 
the community gave their first thought to themselves, 
and not to the general welfare. The richest and most 
distinguished persons built large and splendid houses, 
using, it seems, the building materials designed for the 
Temple. Bad harvests, drought, and hail disap- 
pointed the hopes of the agriculturists. Much was 
sown and little reaped; there was hardly sufficient 
to satisfy the hunger of the people, and to clothe 
them, and "whoever earned money put it into a purse 
full of holes." Still worse was the moral deteriora- 
tion caused by this physical distress. The people 
did not relapse into idolatry; they were radically 
cured of that evil; but selfishness gained the upper 
hand, and the members of the community often treated 
one another most harshly. This state of things con- 
trasted sadly with the new-born hopes of the people, 
and damped the courage of some even of the nobler 

The death of Cambyses (521) and the succession 


of Darius, the third Persian king (521-485), led 
to a change favourable to Judaea. Darius, differing 
from his predecessor, was, like Cyrus, a mild and 
generous ruler. An apocryphal tradition tells us 
that Zerubbabel went to Persia and there found fa- 
vour in the eyes of Darius on account of his wisdom. 
As a proof of his favour, Darius sent Zerubbabel 
back to Jerusalem with permission to rebuild the 
Temple at the king's expense. But, in reality, the 
task was not so easily accomplished. When the death 
of Cambyses put an end to the wars which had been 
disturbing- the peace of neighbouring provinces, Zer- 
ubbabel and Joshua intended doubtless to proceed 
with the building. But the people, that is to say, 
the heads of families, exclaimed: "The time has not 
yet come to rebuild the Temple." It required the 
fiery enthusiasm of the prophets Haggai and Zecha- 
riah to set the work in motion. These prophets 
harangued the people frequently during several suc- 
cessive months (from Elul to Kislev 520), encour- 
aging and rebuking and, at the same time, prophesy- 
ing a glorious future At last they roused the people 
to recommence their work. In four years (519-516) 
the building was finished, and the Sanctuary was con- 
secrated, amid great rejoicing, just before the Feast 
of Passover. 

Seventy years had passed since the destruction of 
the Temple of Solomon by Nebuchadnezzar, when 
the entire nation assembled at Jerusalem for the con- 
secration of the second Temple, henceforth to be the 
centre and loadstar of the community. Three weeks 
later the Feast of Passover was celebrated by the 
whole congregation of Israel, as well as by those 
who had in sincerity joined its faith. However, 
although the young community was imbued with the 
spirit of the Law and of the prophets, and although 
the people anxiously strove for unity, there arose dif- 
ferences of opinion not easy to smooth over, and liable 
to produce friction. The people had two leaders: Zer- 


ubbabel, of the royal house of David, and Joshua, the 
high-priest, of Aaronide descent. One was at the 
head of the secular, the other, of the spiritual power. 
It was impossible to prevent the one power from 
occasionally encroaching upon the jurisdiction of 
the other. A circumstance in Zerubbabel's favour 
was the people's allegiance to the royal house of 
David, and he was a living reminder of a glorious 
past, and a pledge for an equally brilliant future, as 
foretold by the prophets. The prophet Haggai had 
called him the chosen favourite of God, His precious 
Signet-ring. But this in itself was an obstacle. It 
gave the enemies of the Judseans the opportunity to 
charge the community with the purpose of proclaim- 
ing him as the successor of David to the throne. On 
the other hand, the prophet Zechariah had proclaimed 
that the high-priest Joshua should wear the crown, 
ascend the throne, and effect the realisation of the 
Messianic hopes. In this way he gave the preference 
to the high-priest, producing tension and divisions. 
Peace could only be restored by the withdrawal of one 
of the two leaders : their joint rule could not fail to be 
the occasion of excitement and irritation. A choice 
had to be made between the two, and Zerubbabel 
was obliged to give way, the high-priest being more 
necessary than the king's son. It is probable that 
Zerubbabel left Jerusalem and returned to Babylon, 
and thus the house of David retreated into the back- 

After Zerubbabel's withdrawal, the leadership of 
the community was put into the hands of the high- 
priest Joshua, and after his death into those of his 
son Jehoiakim. Was this change a desirable one? 
True, no evil is reported of the first two high- 
priests, nor do they seem to have done anything 
specially praiseworthy towards uplifting and strength- 
ening the community. The supreme command over 
the people does not seem to have been given to the 
high-priest, but to have been vested in a governor or 


administrator (Pechah), appointed over Judaea either 
by the Persian kings or by the satraps of Syria and 
Phoenicia. This official does not appear to have 
lived in Jerusalem, but to have visited the city from 
time to time, where, seated on a throne, he heard and 
decided disputes, but not infrequently rather caused 
dissensions and aggravated existing bad feelings, in 
order to raise complaints against the Judaeans. For, 
as some Judaeans nourished the hope, held out by the 
prophets, that Judah might yet become a mighty 
power, to whom kings and nations would bow, the sus- 
picion that the people were plotting a defection from 
Persia was not removed with the retirement of Zerub- 
babel. Accusationson that ground commenced directly 
after the death of Darius, in the reign of his successor, 
Xerxes (Ahasuerus, 485-464). The enemies of the 
Judaeans, particularly the Samaritans, did not fail to 
draw the governor's attention to the disloyalty of the 
Judaeans, and thus caused unfavourable decrees to 
be issued against them at court. Added to this, the 
successive governors tried to oppress the landowners 
by excessive demands. The position of the Judaeans 
in their own country, which they had entered with 
such buoyant hope, grew worse and worse in the 
second and third generations. 

In order to free themselves, on the one side at 
least, from these constant troubles, the most dis- 
tinguished Judaean families took a step that led in 
the end to mischievous complications. They ap- 
proached the neighbouring peoples, or received the 
advances of the latter, in a friendly spirit, and as a 
proof of the sincerity of their feelings, they began 
to form connections by marriage. As in the days 
when the Israelites first occupied the land of Ca- 
naan, in the time of the Judges, the necessity for 
friendly intercourse with neighbouring tribes led 
to mixed marriages, so during the second occu- 
pation of Palestine by the Israelites, similar rela- 
tions led to similar results. But the circumstances 


differed, inasmuch as the Canaanites, Hittites, and 
other original dwellers in the land practised abomi- 
nable idolatry, and infected the Israelites with their 
vicious customs, while the new neighbours of the 
Judzean commonwealth, particularly the Samaritans, 
had given up idolatry, and were longing earnestly 
and sincerely to take part in the divine service at Jeru- 
salem. They were, in fact, proselytes to the religion 
of Judaea; and were they always to be sternly 
repulsed? The principal Judaean families deter- 
mined to admit the foreigners into the community, 
and the high-priest, of that time, either Jehoiakim 
or his son Eliashib, was ready to carry these wishes 
into effect. Marriages were therefore contracted 
with the Samaritans and other neighbouring people, 
and even some members of the family of the high- 
priest formed such connections. 

The leader of the Samaritans at that time was 
Sanballat, a man of undaunted strength of will and 
energy of action, clever, cunning, audacious and per- 
severing. He was an honest proselyte, who believed 
in the God of Israel, and desired to worship in His 
Temple ; but he determined, as it were, to take by 
storm the kingdom of Heaven. If he were not 
allowed a part in it voluntarily, he would seize it by 
force or by cunning. 

But not only the Samaritans, also the Moabites 
and the Ammonites were among the people anx- 
ious to maintain friendly relations with the Judaeans. 
Tobiah, the leader of the Ammonites, was doubly 
allied to Judaean families. He had married a daughter 
of the noble family of Arach, and a distinguished 
man, Meshullam, the son of Berechiah, had given his 
daughter in marriage to Tobiah 's son. But mixed 
marriages with Ammonites and Moabites were spe- 
cifically prohibited by the Law, until the tenth genera- 
tion after conversion. 

The leaders of the Judaean community, the high- 
priest and others, who were not quite prepared to 


violate the law, doubtless eased their consciences by 
some mild interpretation of the text. But not all were 
so pliable. A small number of the noblest families 
had kept themselves pure from mixed marriages, 
which they deplored as an infraction of the law and 
as a cause of deterioration of the Judaean race. 
More- especially the singers, who were the cultivators 
and preservers of the Hebrew language and of 
its ancient, venerated literature, kept themselves 
clear of mixed marriages. They may have raised 
their voices against the pliability of their co-relig- 
ionists, against this blending with the stranger, but, 
as they were in the minority, their voices were not 
heeded. But when a leading authority appeared in 
Jerusalem from the land of exile, the minority cried 
out loudly against what had taken place, and a com- 
plete reaction followed, from which disagreeable com- 
plications necessarily ensued. 

It is but rarely the case that historical reformations 
are made with such suddenness that the contem- 
porary witnesses of the change are themselves 
affected by it, and are reminded at every turn that 
old things have passed away, and that a new order 
has arisen. In general the people who live during 
an important historical crisis are not aware of the 
changes occurring in themselves, in their opinions, 
their customs, and even in their language. Such a 
change, imperceptible at first, but complete and 
effectual, took place in the Judaeans during the first 
half of the fifth century. This transformation did not 
proceed from the community of Judaea, but from those 
who remained in the land of exile ; it soon, however, 
penetrated to the mother-country, and impressed its 
stamp upon her. 

In Babylonia, the land of the captivity, there had 
remained a considerable number of the descendants 
of the exiles, either from material considerations, or 
for other reasons. But they had been touched by 
the unbounded enthusiasm of their co-religionists, 


and they had shown their sympathy by rich gifts and 
fervent wishes. The Babylonian Judaeans laid great 
stress upon maintaining their own peculiarities and 
their own nationality. They kept themselves apart 
from all their neighbours, married only members of 
their own nation, and were guided by the inherited 
Law as their rule of life. Their absence from the 
mother-country served but to make them obey the 
more strictly the behests of the Law, which thus 
formed the bond of union that bound them together 
as members of one community. They could not 
offer sacrifices, nor keep the observances connected 
with the Temple service, but all the more scrupu- 
lously did they cling to those customs that were 
independent of the sanctuary, such as the Sabbath, 
the Holy Days, circumcision, and the dietary laws. 
Without doubt they had houses of prayer, where they 
assembled at stated times. Even the Hebrew tongue 
they cultivated to such an extent at least that it could 
not become a strange language to them, although 
they employed the Aramaic or Chaidaic in their 
intercourse with their neighbours and among them- 
selves. They obtained a correct knowledge of the 
Hebrew from the scriptures which they had brought 
with them, and which they made the object of careful 
study. They gave particular heed to that portion of 
these scriptures to which, heretofore, little or only 
occasional attention had been paid, namely the Penta- 
teuch, with its code of laws and observances. Dur- 
ing the time of the captivity, the writings of the 
prophets had chiefly been read, because they pos- 
sessed the greater power of consolation. But as 
soon as it was necessary to give reality to the hopes 
and sentiments which the prophets roused and nursed, 
and to stamp life with a peculiar religious and moral 
character, the Book of the Law was sought out and 
consulted. The Torah, or Law, so long neglected 
in its own home, now received due honour and 
attention on a foreign soil. The Sabbath, for in- 

CH. XIX. EZRA. 365 

stance, was kept far less strictly in Jerusalem than 
in the Babylonian-Persian community. This ardour 
for the exact carrying out of the Law and its 
observances found its embodiment in Ezra, who was 
the cause of that momentous change in the history 
of the- nation which endowed it with a new character. 
He did not stand alone, however, but found many 
who were in accord with him. 

This man, who was the creator of the new religious 
and social order of things, seemed, by reason of his 
birth, specially called to kindle unwonted enthusiasm 
for the Torah; for he was a descendant of high- 
priests. It was his ancestor Hilkiah who had found 
the book of Deuteronomy in the Temple, and, by 
giving it to King Josiah, brought about great 
changes. He was also the great-grandson of that 
high-priest, Seraiah, who was slain by the command 
of Nebuchadnezzar, and whose sons carried the Book 
of the Law to Babylon. Ezra had, therefore, the 
opportunity of occupying himself with the study of 
this book. But he gave it more attention than either 
his ancestors or his relatives had done. After he had 
read and studied it with care, he determined that it 
should not remain a mere dead letter, but that it 
should be realised in the daily life of the people. He 
began by applying it to himself, carefully obeying 
the laws regarding dress, diet, and particularly those 
bearing upon the festivals. Then he assumed the 
post of teacher to his brethren ; he expounded the 
Law, brought it nearer to their understanding, and 
urged them to follow it in every detail. The Law 
was to him an emanation of the Deity, revealed to 
Israel by Moses; he placed it higher, infinitely higher, 
than the writings of the other prophets, for the first 
prophet and law-giver was the greatest of all. Con- 
vinced of the Divine inspiration of the Law of Moses, 
and glowing with zeal to make its authority para- 
mount, he found no difficulty in infusing his own 
belief and his own zeal into the Judseans of Babylonia 


and Persia. He soon acquired an honoured position 
amongst them, his word gained authority, and he was 
more eagerly listened to than the prophets had been. 
Ezra may have known that the Law was but negli- 
gently followed in Judaea, and he thought that, by 
visiting that country, he might awaken in his fellow- 
believers a perception of its true worth. Or he may 
have been impelled by a strong impulse to settle in 
Jerusalem, in order to comply with the religious duties 
pertaining to the Temple and the sacrifices. As soon 
as he had determined upon the journey, he invited 
those members of his faith who might be willing to join 
him. The number that responded was a considerable 
one, including over 1,600 men, together with women 
and children, of distinguished families, who had re- 
mained in the land of captivity. Amongst them was 
a great-grandson of Zerubbabel, a descendant of the 
house of David. Those who could not take part in 
the emigration gave Ezra rich gifts of gold, silver, and 
precious vessels for the Temple. It is an astonishing 
circumstance that King Artaxerxes (Longimanus) 
also sent presents for the sanctuary in Jerusalem, 
and that many Persian nobles followed his example. 
It is evident that at this time the God of Israel had 
many earnest worshippers amongst the Persians and 
other nations, and that from "sunrise to sunset His 
name was glorified and reverenced among the peo- 
ples." Not only did Artaxerxes grant Ezra permission 
to journey with his brethren to Jerusalem, but he 
also gave him letters to the satraps of the countries 
through which he passed, and to the authorities of 
Palestine. He would also have sent an escort to 
protect the travellers from hostile tribes, but Ezra 
declined it, assuring the king that the God to whom 
they prayed would protect them. 

The arrival of Ezra with his numerous companions 
must have caused much surprise in Jerusalem 
(459-458). They came provided with letters from 
the king, laden with gifts, and imbued with enthu- 


siastic feelings. Without doubt, Ezra's name as an 
instructor and expounder of the Law had already 
penetrated as far as Judaea, and he was received 
with every mark of consideration. No sooner had 
he assumed the ecclesiastical function, than the men of 
strong convictions who condemned intermarriages 
with the surrounding peoples brought their com- 
plaints before him. Ezra was dismayed when he 
heard of these occurrences. The representatives of 
the people and of the Temple had, in contempt of the 
Law, connected themselves with the heathen. Ezraheld 
this to be a terrible sin. For the Judaean or Israelitish 
race was in his eyes a holy one, and suffered dese- 
cration by mingling with foreign tribes, even though 
they had abjured idolatry. According to Ezra's read- 
ing of the Law, heathens who had accepted the Law 
might enter into the community ; they were, however, 
not to be put upon a footing of equality with Israelites 
by birth, but were to live as a group apart. The 
Gibeonites, in former days the slaves of the Temple, 
who had accepted the Israelitish doctrines more 
than a thousand years before, were still kept dis- 
tinct, and were not permitted to intermarry with 
the Israelites; and in Ezra's opinion, the new pro- 
selytes from the heathen nations were to be treated 
in a similar manner. The connection with them ought 
not to be of an intimate character; such was Ezra's 
opinion, based, not on ancestral pride, but on religious 
and social grounds. Some dim presentiment warned 
him that the reception of proselytes or half-proselytes 
into the community of such elements as had not been 
tried and proved in the furnace of suffering, as the 
seed of Abraham had been would give undue pre- 
ponderance to the foreign element, and would de- 
stroy all the moral and religious advantages which 
the Judjeans had acquired. This fear seized upon 
his whole soul ; he rent his clothes, plucked the hair 
from his head and beard, and refusing all nourish- 
ment, sat until the afternoon, sorrowing and desolate 


because of this danger which threatened the life of 
the nation. Then he entered the court of the 
Temple, and throwing himself upon his knees, he 
poured forth a confession full of deep contrition, 
lamenting that the people had not improved by 
their bitter experiences, but had relapsed into 
their former evil ways. This keenly-felt peni- 
tence, uttered amid sobs and tears, powerfully 
affected the bystanders, men, women and children, 
who had been attracted by the sight of the kneel- 
ing sage. They burst into passionate weeping, 
as if their tears could obliterate the dark pages in 
their history. One of those present, Shechaniah, 
touched by sympathy, uttered a weighty suggestion : 
" Let us make a covenant to put away all the strange 
wives, and such as are born of them." Ezra seized 
upon the idea at once ; he rose and demanded that 
the heads of the families, who were present on that 
occasion, swear before the Sanctuary, and by their 
God, that they would repudiate their foreign wives 
and their children. That moment was to decide the 
fate of the Judaean people. Ezra, and those who 
thought as he did, raised a wall of separation be- 
tween the Judseans and the rest of the world. But 
this exclusiveness was not strictly in agreement 
with the letter of the Law, for Ezra himself, with all 
his knowledge, was not able to point out any passage 
in the Torah, implying that mixed marriages were 
forbidden when contracted with those who acknow- 
ledged the God of Israel. 

Such members of the community as, in a moment 
of enthusiasm, had taken this vow, were now obliged 
to keep it. With bleeding hearts they separated 
themselves from their wives, the daughters of neigh- 
bouring tribes, and repudiated their own children. 
The sons and relations of the high-priest were forced 
to set an example to the rest. Those of the elders of 
the people who were the most ardent disciples of 
the Law formed a kind of senate. They issued a 


proclamation throughout Judah, commanding all 
who had been guilty of contracting mixed marriages, 
to appear within three days in Jerusalem, on pain of 
excommunication. A special court of enquiry was 
instituted for this one question. Ezra himself selected 
the members who were to make the needful re- 
searches to discover whether the Judaeans had really 
repudiated their wives. So thoroughly was the 
work of this court of enquiry carried on, that all 
those who were living in the towns of Judaea sepa- 
rated themselves from their wives and children, as 
the inhabitants of Jerusalem had done. Still there 
were some who, influenced by family feelings, made 
some show of resistance. 

The severity with which this separation from all 
neighbouring tribes, Samaritans and others, had been 
effected led naturally to grave results. The raising 
of this wall of separation by Ezra and his party 
against those who were truly anxious to belong to 
the community caused much bitterness. They were 
to be separated for ever from the Deity they had 
chosen, and excluded from the Sanctuary in Jerusa- 
lem to which they had belonged. The decree of 
separation sent to them changed their friendly rela- 
tions towards the Judseans to enmity. Hatred which 
arises from despised affection is always most bitter. 
The grief of the wives deserted by their husbands, 
and the sight of children disowned by their fathers 
could not fail to awaken and to increase the animosity 
of those who were closely related to them. Un- 
fortunately for the Judaeans, Sanballat and Tobiah, 
two forceful and able men, were at the head of the 
party excluded from the community. Tobiah, the 
Ammonite, was related to several Judaean families. 
They had both accepted the Judaean teaching, and 
now they were both repulsed. Henceforth they as- 
sumed a hostile position towards Judaea; they were 
determined, by force or by intrigues, to maintain 
their right of worshipping in the Temple and sharing 


in the faith of Israel. At first they probably took 
steps to restore their peaceful intercourse with the 
Judseans, and urged them to revoke their cruel de- 
cision. In Jerusalem, as well as in the provinces, 
there was a party which strongly disapproved of 
Ezra's stern action. The well-informed among these 
differed with Ezra on the illegality of marriages with 
women who had, at all events outwardly, accepted 
the Law. Was Ezra's severity justifiable ? Did 
not the historical records contain many instances of 
Israelites having married foreign wives? Such ques- 
tions must have been constantly put at that time. 

A charming literary production, written probably 
at that date, echoes the opinions of the gentler mem- 
bers of the community. The poetical author of the 
Book of Ruth relates, apparently without a purpose, 
the simple idyllic story of a distinguished family of 
Bethlehem which had migrated to Moab, where 
the two sons married Moabitish wives; but he 
touches at the same time upon the burning ques- 
tion of the day. Ruth, the Moabitess, the widow of 
one of the sons, is described as saying to her mother- 
in-law, " Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return 
from following after thee : for whither thou goest I 
will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge : thy 
people shall be my people, and thy God, my God: 
where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried ; 
the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but 
death part thee and me." And the Moabitess kept 
her word faithfully. Upon her marriage with Boaz, 
the people exclaim : " The Lord make the woman 
that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, 
which two did build the house of Israel." The son born 
to Ruth was the ancestor of David, the great king of 
Israel. The several incidents of this exquisite story are 
most delicately and artistically developed. But the 
author meant to place two facts before his readers, 
namely, that the royal house of Israel sprang from a 
Moabitess, and that the Moabitess, after having con- 


nected herself closely with the people of Israel and 
acknowledged their God, gave proof of such virtues as 
grace a daughter of Israel: chastity, refinement of 
feeling, and cheerful self-sacrifice. The reference in 
this tale to the all-absorbing question of the day was 
too pointed to be passed over unnoticed. Among 
those unfortunate wives who had been, or who were 
to be repudiated by their husbands, might there not be 
some who resembled Ruth ? And the children born 
of foreign women, but having Judsean fathers, were 
they to be looked down upon as heathens? If so, then 
not even the house of David, the royal family, whose 
ancestor had married a Moabitess, belonged to the 
Judaean nation! 

But none of these representations were of avail. 
Ezra and the reigning senate in Jerusalem insisted 
sternly upon the exclusion from the community of all 
people who could not claim Judaic descent, and who 
were, therefore, not of " the holy seed." The failure 
of all conciliatory measures resulted in hostilities, 
which lasted for several years (457-444). Ezra was, 
unfortunately, not a man of action ; he could only 
pray and arouse the feelings of others, but he could 
not prevent many Judaean families from secretly 
abetting his opponents. On the other hand, San- 
ballat and his followers were men of decided charac- 
ter, full of virulent hatred towards their adversaries, 
and they took every opportunity of harassing their 
enemies. At last they even attacked Jerusalem. 

What could have inspired them with such boldness, 
knowing as they did that Ezra was favoured by the 
Persian court, and that Judaean favourites possessed 
great influence over Artaxerxes? Did they, perhaps, 
count upon the fickleness of the Persian king? Or 
were they emboldened by the revolt of Megabyzus, 
satrap of Syria, to whom both Judaea and Samaria 
were subordinate ? And while the Syrians vanquished 
one Persian army after another, were they encour- 
aged to commence hostilities on their own account; 


and to aim at the heart of their enemy ? But, no 
matter what it was that induced Sanballat and his 
followers to take warlike steps against Jerusalem, 
they were entirely successful. They were able to 
raise an army, whilst their opponents in Jerusalem 
were mostly ignorant of the use of arms. The result 
was that Sanballat and his followers made breaches 
in the walls of the city, burned the wooden gates, and 
destroyed many of the buildings, so that Jerusalem 
again resembled a heap of ruins. They, however, 
spared the Temple, for it was sacred in their eyes 
also; but it was nevertheless abandoned, and most 
of the inhabitants, having lost the protection of the 
city walls, left Jerusalem, and established themselves 
in other places, wherever they could find shelter. 

The Aaronides ana Levites, deprived of their in- 
come from gifts and tithes, left the Temple and 
sought other means of subsistence. The common- 
wealth of Judaea, after barely a century's existence, 
was passing through sad times. Many noble families 
made peace with their neighbours, took back their 
repudiated wives, and contracted new connections 
with the stranger. They pledged themselves by a 
reciprocal vow of constancy to respect these new ties. 
For a short time it seemed as if Ezra's great work 
were frustrated, and as if the life of the common- 
wealth were endangered. How little was lacking to 
effect a complete dissolution ! 

The religious zeal kindled by Ezra was, however, 
too ardent to be so easily extinguished. Some ot 
the Judaeans, maddened by grief at the destruction 
and desolation of Jerusalem, hurried to the Persian 
court to seek aid. They counted upon the aid of 
Nehemiah, the Judaean cup-bearer of Artaxerxes. 
Hananiah, a kinsman of Nehemiah, and an eye-witness 
of the sad occurrences, gave him a harrowing descrip- 
tion of the sad state of the Judaeans and of the fall of 
the Holy City. Nehemiah was struck with dismay at 
these tidings. He belonged to the zealous party in 


Persia, and was, if possible, more exacting than Ezra. 
Jerusalem, the Holy City, had always presented itself 
to his imagination as especially protected by God, 
and surrounded by a fiery wall, which permitted no 
enemy to approach with impunity. And now it had 
been humbled and put to shame, like any earthly city. 
But he did not allow his grief to master him ; he was a 
man of vigorous action and great ingenuity. At court 
he had learned the art of governing, and knew that a 
firm will could control both men and circumstances. 
He instantly determined upon going to Jerusalem, to 
put an end to this miserable state of things. But 
how could he leave Persia, seeing that he was bound 
to the court by his office? The great favour that 
Artaxerxes always showed him chained him to the 
place, and removed all prospects of a journey to 

Full of tact, Nehemiah refrained from entreating 
ArtaAerxes to give him leave to start upon his journey, 
until a favourable opportunity should occur. But 
the grief that was gnawing at his heart soon showed 
itself in his face, and clouded his usually cheerful 
countenance. One day, when he was pouring out 
wine for the king and queen, his sad expression at- 
tracted their attention, and Artaxerxes questioned 
him as to its cause. He instantly made use of the 
opportunity, and answered, " Why should not my 
countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my 
father's sepulchre, lieth waste, and the gates thereof 
are consumed with fire ? " He then expressed his 
earnest desire to the king. Artaxerxes at once granted 
his every wish, permitting him to undertake the 
journey, to rebuild the city walls, and to restore order 
in the unsettled State. The king gave him letters to 
the various royal officials, directing them to lay no 
obstacles in his way, and to deliver to him timber for 
building purposes. He even appointed an escort of 
soldiers to accompany Nehemiah, and named him 
governor of Judaea. The king made but one condi- 


tion, namely, that his stay in Jerusalem was not to be 
permanent, but that he must return to the Persian 
court at the expiration of a given time. 

A new chapter in the history of the commonwealth 
commences with Nehemiah's journey to Jerusalem, 
or rather this event completes the chapter begun by 
Ezra. Nehemiah left the city of Susa with a large 
retinue, accompanied by an armed escort. As he trav- 
elled through the former dominion of the Ten Tribes, 
he presented his credentials to the various officials, 
and thus Sanballat and Tobiah were apprised of the 
object of his journey, and naturally felt that they were 
on the eve of a war. It was disappointing to them 
to see that a Judaean, the favourite of Artaxerxes, one 
who would devote himself to the protection of his 
persecuted brethren, had been appointed governor 
of the land. 

When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he secluded 
himself for three days. He wished, first of all, to 
become acquainted with the scene of his duties, and 
with the people with whom he would come into con- 
tact. Meanwhile, he devoted himself to the estab- 
lishment of a kind of court, for he possessed a 
princely fortune, and he made a princely display. 
He kept the reason of his sojourn secret, and did not 
even divulge it to the leaders of the community, for 
he did not trust them. One night he rode forth 
secretly to examine the extent of the injury sustained 
by the walls, and to devise a plan for repairing them. 
He then summoned the leading men of the com- 
munity, and announced, to- their amazement, that 
King Artaxerxes had given him complete power, 
not only to rebuild the walls, but to govern the 
country, and that it was his intention to wipe out 
the disgrace and misery that had fallen upon them. 
He found the assembled Judaeans ready, heart and 
soul, to help him. Even those who had intermarried 
with the strangers, and were on a friendly footing with 
them, evinced their approbation. But Nehemiah had 


imposed a heavy task upon himself. He was to 
reorganise a disjointed commonwealth, whose mem- 
bers, through fear, weakness, selfishness, and a variety 
of motives, had not sufficient courage to face real 
danger. Nehemiah's first care was to fortify Jeru- 
salem ; he himself superintended the work of building 
the fortifications, and made it less arduous by a care- 
ful division of labour. But the task of rebuilding was 
necessarily a tedious one. The repudiated prose- 
lytes, headed by Sanballat and Tobiah, whose every 
hope of alliance with the Judaeans had been cut off 
by Nehemiah's words, "Ye shall have no portion, 
no right, no memorial in Jerusalem," manifested as 
much zeal in disturbing the work, as he did in ac- 
complishing it. They artfully tried to make the 
Persians suspect Nehemiah of treason, and of having 
conceived the ambitious scheme of making himself 
king of Judaea. Then they endeavoured to dis- 
courage the workmen by deriding them, and by 
declaring that the walls were weak enough for a 

tu ^^ 

jackal to break through them. When the walls had 
risen to half their destined height, the enemy sec- 
retly determined upon an attack. Nehemiah, how- 
ever, had armed some of his own people, as well as 
some of the leading members of the community, and 
placed them on guard. Every workman had a sword 
girt upon his side ; every carrier bore his burden in 
one hand and his weapon in the other. In order to 
hasten the completion of the walls, the work was car- 
ried on continuously from dawn to sunset, while a 
part of the force stood on guard, day and night, 
within the city. Nehemiah himself was always on the 
spot, accompanied by a trumpeter. At the blast of 
his trumpet, the scattered workingmen were in- 
structed to assemble around him. ' 

But instead of resuming the attack upon the walls, 
Sanballat busied himself with devising intrigues 
against Nehemiah. He gave out that as soon as 
Jerusalem was fortified, Nehemiah would cause 


himself to be proclaimed king of the Judaeans, and 
would revolt against Persia. The more credulous 
began to feel alarmed, and to think of withdrawing 
from the work, so as not to be regarded by the Per- 
sians in the light of accomplices. Furthermore, the 
heads of those families who were related to the enemy 
were in active treasonable correspondence with 
Tobiah. But all these intrigues were of no avail, and 
Nehemiah completed the work with such energy as 
to compel the unwilling admiration of the foe. From 
that time Sanballat and his followers appear to have 
given up their fruitless attempts to annoy Nehemiah, 
or to hinder his work. 

But within the community itself, Nehemiah had to 
fight no less severe a battle. Many of the most dis- 
tinguished families who were apparently loyal, not 
only entertained secret communications with the 
enemy, but also were oppressing the poor in a most 
heartless manner. When, in the days of scarcity, the 
poor borrowed money from the rich in order to pay 
taxes to the king, or obtained grain for their own con- 
sumption, they had given as security their fields, their 
vineyards, their olive groves, their own houses, and 
sometimes even their own children ; and if the debts 
were not repaid, the creditors would retain the land 
as their own property, and keep the children as 
slaves. As the complaints of those who had been 
thus cruelly treated rose louder and more frequently 
to the ears of Nehemiah, he determined to call these 
heartless men to account. He summoned a great 
assembly, and spoke severely against this form of 
heartlessness, which was specially condemned by the 

" We, the Judaeans of Persia," he exclaimed, " have, 
according to the best of our ability, redeemed our 
brethren, the Judaeans that were sold unto the 
heathen. And will ye even sell your brethren so that 
they will be sold again unto us? " he added ironically. 
So deep was the respect enjoyed by Nehemiah, so 


weighty his opinion, and so ready were even the great 
and the rich to hearken to the admonitions of the 
Law, that they promised forthwith not only to release 
the enslaved persons, but also to restore the houses, 
fields and gardens to their owners and to cancel their 
debts. Nehemiah made use of this favourable mood 
to administer an oath to the rich, binding them to 
carry out their promises. 

This was an important victory gained by the Law, 
through its representative, Nehemiah, over selfishness. 
He indeed excelled all others in the example of self- 
denial which he set to them. Not only did he 
refuse the revenues due to him, but he advanced money 
and grain to the poor, and if they were unable to 
repay it, he relinquished the loans. His relatives and 
servants behaved in the same generous and unselfish 

In this way Nehemiah overcame all difficulties, and 
brought order into the community. The people hung 
upon his words, and the leading men yielded him 
obedience. But when the walls of the city were rebuilt 
and the gates replaced, it appeared that the Levitical 
gatekeepers, and in fact all the Levites were missing. 
They had migrated after the destruction of the city, 
into other parts of the country, because they received 
no tithes. Altogether, the city was but thinly popu- 
lated, and many houses were destroyed or deserted. 
Jerusalem therefore had to be peopled again, and 
the Temple furnished anew with attendants. 

It seems that Nehemiah caused a proclamation to 
be issued to all those who had deserted Jerusalem in 
the time of its insecurity, and to those who had origi- 
nally settled in the provincial towns, inviting them 
to take up their permanent abode in the capital. 
Many of the noble families at once offered to do this. 
But as the number of these was too small to repeople 
Jerusalem, it was determined that the tenth part 
of the population of the rural districts be called 
upon to migrate to the capital, and that they be 


selected by lot. Nehemiah, however, did not think 
every one worthy of becoming a citizen of the Holy 
City, least of all those born of mixed marriages. 
He carefully went through the register of Judaeans 
who had returned from Babylonia, examining the 
pedigree of each separate family. He conducted the 
matter with great rigour. Three families, consisting 
of six hundred and forty-two persons, who could not 
prove that they were descended from Israelites, were 
not admitted, and three Aaronide families, who were 
unable to produce the record of their lineage, were 
temporarily deprived of the dignity of the priesthood. 
As soon as Nehemiah had fortified Jerusalem, and 
found means to provide a population for it, giving 
the community a centre and forming the people 
into a compact body, he sought to breathe into this 
body the living soul of the Law. But for this pur- 
pose he required the aid of the scribes. Ezra, who 
had been thrown into the background by the great 
activity of Nehemiah, now re-appeared upon the 
scene. On the festival celebrated on the first day of 
the seventh month, Ezra assembled all the people, 
even those who dwelt in the country. " They gath- 
ered themselves together as one man into the open 
place which is before the Water-gate in Jerusalem." 
Here an elevated stand of wood was erected, upon 
which Ezra stood to read the Law. Everything 
was calculated to produce a solemn and imposing 
effect. The assembly was a numerous one; it 
consisted not only of men, but also of women, and 
of children who were old enough to understand 
what they heard. When Ezra unrolled the Book of 
the Law, all the people arose, and when he opened 
the services by reciting a blessing, they lifted up 
their hands, responding, in a loud voice, Amen. 
Then Ezra began to read a section of the Torah 
with an impressive voice, and all present listened 
intently. There were some, indeed, unable to follow 
the reading, but the Levites added a short and clear 


explanation, so that even the most ignorant could 
understand. The people were deeply moved by what 
they heard, and burst into tears. Probably they 
heard for the first time that portion of Deuteronomy 
in which are announced the fearful punishments 
consequent upon disregard of the Law ; and the con- 
science-stricken people felt themselves unworthy of 
the Divine love, and were overwhelmed with grief. 
Some time elapsed before Ezra and the priests could 
restore tranquillity to the excited multitude. But at 
length they were quieted, and proceeded to cele- 
brate the festival in an exalted mood. It was the 
first time that the people had taken the Book of the 
Law into their hearts, and that they had felt it to be 
an integral part of their existence, and themselves 
to be its guardians. 

The change which had begun during the time 
of the Babylonian exile was now completed. What 
the prophets had commenced, the scribes ended. 
It is remarkable that so important an assembly 
should have met, not in the Temple itself, but in its 
immediate vicinity, and that the high-priest should 
have taken no part in it. The Sanctuary, with the 
altar and the vessels for sacrifice, was, to a certain 
extent, thrown into the background. Though a priest, 
Ezra u nconsciously led the way to a separation between 
the Law and the Temple, that is to say, the subordina- 
tion of the priesthood to the Scriptures. The people 
became so enamoured of the Law, for which they had 
cared but little previously, that they were anxious to 
hear more of it. The heads of the community, whose 
ancestors had obstinately rejected the teaching of 
the prophets, and had seemed utterly incapable of 
reformation, repaired to Ezra, on the next day, 
and begged of him to continue his reading of the 
Pentateuch. Ezra thereupon read the portion con- 
cerning the festivals that were to be celebrated during 
the seventh month. In obedience to the injunctions 
contained therein, the leading men caused heralds to 


proclaim that all the people were to bring branches 
of olive trees, myrtles, and palms from the neigh- 
bouring mountains, for the erection of huts or booths. 
The people executed this order with alacrity, and cele- 
brated the Festival of Tabernacles in a brighter mood 


than they had ever done before. During the eight 
days of this festival a portion of the Law was read 
daily, and from that time the reading of the Law 
became a permanent feature in the Divine service. 
Ezra ana Nehemiah were anxious to avail themselves 
of this religious fervour in a way to influence those 
who still lived with their foreign wives to repudiate 
them of their own free will. For this purpose a peni- 
tential day was appointed. All the people appeared 
fasting, in mourning, and with ashes upon their heads. 
The portion of the Law forbidding intermarriage with 
Ammonites and Moabites was read and expounded. 
Then a general acknowledgment of sin, in the name 
of the people, was recited by the Levites. The de- 
sired effect was obtained; the Israelites separated 
from their foreign wives, and sundered their connec- 
tion with the Samaritans and all of doubtful descent. 
Ezra and Nehemiah now induced them to make a 
solemn covenant that they would in future respect the 
teaching of the Law, and not relapse into their old 
errors and shortcomings. From that day forward the 
whole community was to live according to the Law of 
Moses. Men, women, and children, the Temple ser- 
vants, and even the proselytes, who clung faithfully to 
the Judseans, took the oath that was required of them. 
They swore not to give their daughters in marriage to 
foreigners, and not to marry daughters of foreign 
tribes. This matter was looked upon by Ezra and 
Nehemiah as one of peculiar importance, and, there- 
fore, the first place was given to it. They also swore to 
observe the Sabbath and the holidays, to let the fields 
lie fallow every seventh year, and, during that year, 
to remit all debts. Furthermore, every individual 
who had attained his majority was to pay annually 


one-third of a shekel towards the maintenance of the 
Temple, to bring the first produce of the fields and 
the orchards to the Sanctuary, to provide wood for 
the altar, and to contribute the tithes for the main- 
tenance of the priests and the Levites. 

The obligations assumed by the people were in- 
scribed upon a scroll, which was signed by the heads 
of the families, and sealed. Nehemiah's name stood 
first upon the list, followed by the signatures of 
about eighty-five prominent men. According to one 
account, one hundred and twenty names were sub- 
scribed. This important gathering of Judaeans was 
called the Great Assembly (Keneseth ha-gedolah). 
Nehemiah had indeed accomplished much in a short 
time. He had not only restored the decayed com- 
monwealth, and assured its stability by fortifying the 
capital, but he had also endowed the people with 
the Law, and had induced them to live in harmony 
with its requirements. 

Nehemiah appears designedly to have contrived 
the gathering of large popular assemblies in order 
to make a deep impression on those present. He 
convened the people a second time, to consecrate 
the walls of the city. As at the former ceremony, 
women and children were in the congregation. 
In order to impart a joyful character to these solem- 
nities, he invited a number of Levites who were 
skilled in music and song to come to Jerusalem. 
Two divisions of the people, starting from the same 
point, marched, in opposite directions, round the 
walls, and met in the Temple. At the head of each 
division, a choir of Levites sang hymns of praise, 
each being accompanied by a band of musicians. 
Ezra followed one choir, and Nehemiah the other, 
each of them heading an immense concourse of 
people. In this way the two processions passed 
slowly round the walls of the city. Far into the dis- 
tance sounded the joyous notes of the cymbals, harps 
and trumpets, whilst the songs bursting from the 


lips of the Levites echoed again and again from the 
mountains. After the day of mourning and atone- 
ment followed a day of universal joy and gladness. 
This festival of dedication, we are told, lasted eight 
days, and took place two years and four months after 
the commencement of Nehemiah's work (442). 

In order to establish the community to whom he 
had given new life, Nehemiah sought able, worthy 
and conscientious officers. It seems that it was he 
who divided the country into small districts (Pelech), 
and placed over each an officer to manage its affairs 
and to maintain order. To the north of the Temple, 
Nehemiah built a citadel, which he fortified strongly, 
so that in case of necessity it might prove a defence 
for the Sanctuary; this fortress was called Birah. 
He appointed a faithful and God-fearing man, Hana- 
niah, as commander. His colleague in the work of 
regeneration, the scribe Ezra, was made guardian of 
the Ternple.^ The chief thing he had in view was the 
full restoration of the Temple-worship. If the sacri- 
ficial services were not again to be interrupted, pro- 
vision must be made for the maintenance of the 
Aaronides and Levites. The landowners had, it is 
true, bound themselves most solemnly to pay the 
imposts to the former, and the tithes to the latter, 
but Nehemiah, not content with the mere promise, 
required the delivery of the supplies to be constantly 
watched. The Levites were sent into the country 
at harvest time, to collect their tithes, and to bring 
them back to Jerusalem. In order to secure an 
even distribution of the tithes, a tenth of which was 
in turn due to the Aaronides, and of those gifts 
which belonged to the latter exclusively, Nehemiah 
built large granaries, where all contributions were to 
be stored, and whither those entitled thereto were to 
repair to have their due shares assigned to them by 
special officials. 

Not only did Nehemiah provide for the re-popula- 
tion of the deserted city of Jerusalem, but he also 


sought means to furnish the new inhabitants with 
suitable dwellings. At his own cost he erected 
houses for the poorest of the nation, and tried to 
supply all wants in the same way. Thus he built 
up a new state, upon which he laid but one obliga- 
tion, that it should abide strictly by the Law. For 
twelve years he was governor of Judah (from 444 to 
432); he was then obliged to return to the court of 
Artaxerxes, where he still enjoyed great favour with 
the king. He departed with the hope that the work 
he had accomplished might be blessed with lasting 
security and glory. 

But no sooner had Nehemiah left than a counter-cur- 
rent set in that could be traced to the influence of the 
high-priest Eliashib. The first retrograde step was 
taken when Eliashib held friendly communication 
with the Samaritans and the offspring of mixed mar- 
riages, in violation of the decision of the Great As- 
sembly. As an earnest of this friendship, a member 
of the priest's household, named Manasseh, married 
Nicaso, a daughter of Sanballat. Others, who had 
been secretly dissatisfied with Nehemiah's strict line 
of separation, now followed the example of the 
priestly house. An entire change took place. To- 
biah, the second great enemy of Nehemiah, was 
allowed to return unmolested to Jerusalem, and a 
large court in the outer Temple was actually assigned 
to him. 

This sudden change, which allowed what had re- 
cently been strictly forbidden, produced a general 
disintegration. The people as a body was so out- 
raged by the actions of the high-priest and his party 
that it openly showed its contempt for them. The 
landowners, moreover, left off paying tithes and 
imposts for the support of the priesthood, and thus 
the innocent Levites also lost their income. To 
avoid starvation they were compelled to leave the 
Temple and the city. The contributions for the sac- 
rificial services ceased, and to prevent the altar from 


being entirely neglected, the priests in charge offered 
up diseased, lame, blind or unsightly animals. Many 
Judseans were so utterly disgusted at the behaviour 
of the priests that they turned their backs upon the 
Sanctuary and the affairs of the community, pursuing 
their own interests, and this not rarely at the expense 
of justice, and of all that they had sworn to uphold. 
When this class grew prosperous, the truly pious 
people, who were struggling with poverty, became 
utterly confused in their ideas of right and wrong, 
and exclaimed: "It is vain to serve God: and what 
profit is it that we have kept His charge ?" " Every 
one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, 
and He delighteth in them." 

But worse than all else was the discord which pre- 
vailed in the Judsean community, and which even 
divided families. What could be pronounced right 
and lawful ? The father did not agree with the son ; 
the one accepted the stern practice, the other the lax, 
and thus disputes arose in each household. To coun- 
teract these lamentable occurrences, the more pious, 
who would not allow themselves to be shaken in 
their convictions, met and discussed a plan of action. 
They turned with hope and longing towards Nehe- 
miah, who was still at the court of Artaxerxes. If he 
would but return to Jerusalem, he could, with one 
blow, put an end to this miserable state of confusion, 
and restore peace, unity, and strength to the city. 
At this auspicious moment a God-fearing man sud- 
denly appeared on the scene. He belonged to 
the party that was incensed at the behaviour of the 
high-priest and his followers, and he undertook to 
chastise the wicked, and to reanimate the waning 
courage of the good. This man, full of vigour, and 
moved by the prophetic spirit, was Malachi, the last 
of the prophets. Worthily did he close the long list 
of godly men who had succeeded each other for 
four centuries. Malachi announced to his dejected 
and despairing brethren the speedy arrival of the 



Messenger of the Covenant, whom many delighted 
in, and who would bring better days with him. The 
prophet counselled the people not to omit paying 
the tithes on account of the evil-doing of some of the 
priests, but to bring them all, as in former days, into 
the store-houses. 

Malachi, like the early prophets, proclaimed that 
in the distant future a great and awful day would 
dawn, when the difference between the pious and 
the wicked would be made clear. Before the coming 
of that last day God would send His prophet Elijah, 
and he would reconcile the father to the son. He 
bade them remember and take to heart the Law 
of Moses, with its statutes and its judgments, which 
had been given to them on Mount Horeb. With 
these words, the voice of prophecy was hushed. 

The written Law, which had been made accessible 
to many through the zeal of Ezra, and which had 
found a body of exponents, rendered the continu- 
ance of prophetic utterances unnecessary. The scribe 
took the place of the seer, and the reading of the 
Law, either to large assemblies or in houses of 
prayer, was substituted for prophetic revelation. 

Did Nehemiah at the court of Persia have any 
idea of the yearning for his presence that existed 
at this very moment in Jerusalem? Had he any 
knowledge that Malachi's belief in better days rested 
upon the hope of his return ? It is impossible to 
say, but, at all events, he suddenly re-appeared in 
Jerusalem, between the years 430 and 424, having 
again obtained the king's permission to return to 
his spiritual home, and soon after his arrival he 
became, in the words of the prophet, " like a re- 
finer's fire, and like the fuller's lye." He cleansed 
the community of its impure elements. He began 
by expelling the Ammonite Tobiah from the place 
which had been given to him by his priestly rela- 
tive, Eliashib, and by dismissing the latter from his 
office. He then assembled the heads of the commu- 


nity, and reproached them bitterly with having caused 
the Levites to desert the Temple, by neglecting- to 
collect the tithes. A summons from Nehemiah was 
enough to induce the landed proprietors to perform 
their neglected duties, and to cause the Levites to 
return to their service in the Temple. The charge 
of the collected tithes and their just distribution he 
placed under the care of four conscientious Judaeans, 
some of his devoted followers. He restored the 
divine service to its former solemnity, and dismissed 
the unworthy priests. A most important work in the 
eyes of Nehemiah was the dissolution of the mixed 
marriages which had again been contracted. Here 
he came in direct conflict with the high-priestly house. 
Manasseh, a son or relation of the high-priest Joiada, 
refused to separate himself from his Samaritan wife, 
Nicaso, Sanballat's daughter, and Nehemiah pos- 
sessed sufficient firmness to banish him from the coun- 
try. Many other Aaronides and Judaeans who would 
not obey Nehemiah's commands were also sent into 
exile. After peace and order had been restored in 
the capital, Nehemiah tried to abolish the abuses 
which had found their way into the provinces. 
Wherever Judaeans lived in close proximity to foreign 
tribes, such as the Ashdodites, Ammonites, Moabites, 
or Samaritans, mixed marriages had led to almost 
entire ignorance of the Hebrew tongue, for the chil- 
dren of these marriages generally spoke the language 
of their mothers. This aroused Nehemiah's anger, 
and stimulated his energy. He remonstrated with 
the Judsean fathers, he even cursed them, and finally 
caused the refractory to be punished. By such per- 
sistent activity he was able to accomplish the disso- 
lution of the mixed marriages, and the preservation 
of the Hebrew tongue. 

Nehemiah next introduced the strict observance of 
the Sabbath, which had been but negligently observed 
hitherto. The Law had certainly forbidden all labour 
on that day, but it had not defined what really was 


to be considered as labour. At all events, the Judae- 
ans who lived in the provinces were ignorant on that 
point, for on the Sabbath they pressed the wine, loaded 
their beasts of burden with corn, grapes, figs, and 
drove them to market into the city of Jerusalem. As 
soon as Nehemiah discovered that the Sabbath was 
treated like an ordinary week-day, he assembled the 
country people, and explained that they were sinning 
against God's Law, and they listened to him, and 
followed his injunctions. But he had a more diffi- 
cult task in abolishing an old-established custom. 
Tyrian mer^ants were in the habit of appearing in 
Jerusalem on the Sabbath-day, bringing fish fresh 
from the sea, and they found ready customers. But 
Nehemiah ordered that henceforth all the gates 
should be closed on the Sabbath eve, so that no mer- 
chant could enter the city. These ordinances were 
strictly enforced, and from that time the Sabbath was 
rigorously observed. 

The strict observance of the Law, enjoined by 
Ezra, was insisted upon by Nehemiah; he built the 
wall of separation between Judaeans and Gentiles 
so securely, that it was impossible to break through 
it. The Judaeans who were discontented with this 
separation and the severity of the Law were obliged 
to leave the Judaean community, and form a sect of 
their own. Nehemiah himself probably lived to see 
the formation of the first sect among Jews, and as 
he himself might virtually be held responsible for it, 
he thought it necessary to justify his proceedings, and 
to set forth his own meritorious part in raising the 
fallen community. He composed a kind of memoir, 
in which he related what he had achieved in his first 
and second visits to Jerusalem. At intervals he 
inserted the prayer that God would remember him 
for what he had done for the people and for his 
services in behalf of the Sanctuary and its preserva- 
tion. It was a kind of self-justification written in his 
old age, and his name has remained eternally in the 


remembrance of a grateful people. To him and to 
Ezra, the creators of that spiritual current which has 
since attained an irresistible force in the Jewish world, 
grateful posterity has attributed all beneficial institu- 
tions whose origin is unknown. 



Enmity of the Samaritans against the Judaeans TheTemple on Mount 
Gerizim The High-Priest Manasseh The mixed language of 
the Samaritans Their veneration for the Law of Moses 
Judaism loses its national meaning The Jubilee and Sabbatical 
Year Almsgiving The Council of Seventy The Assyrian 
Characters The Schools and the Sopherim Observance ot the 
Ceremonies The Prayers The Future Life The 
under Artaxerxes II. and III. Their Banishment to the Cas- 
pian Sea Johanan and Joshua contend for the office of High- 
Priest Bagoas The Writings of the Period The Greeks and 
Macedonians Alexander the Great and the Judaeans Judaea 
accounted a Province of Ccelesyria Struggles between Alex- 
ander's Successors Capture of Jerusalem by Ptolemy Judaea 
added to the Lagidean-Egyptian Kingdom The Judaean Colo- 
nies in Egypt and Syria and the Greek Colonies in Palestine. 

420 300 B. c. E. 

HATRED which arises from rejected love is stronger 
and more vehement than enmity resulting from 
inexplicable antipathy, jealousy, or disagreement. 
Sanballat, as well as his Samaritan followers and 
companions, out of preference for the God of Israel, 
had struggled to be received into the Judsean com- 
munity. The virulence of their enmity against Neh- 
emiah, who had raised the commonwealth from its 
declining state, was in reality an impetuous offer of 
love, by which they hoped to secure an intimate 
connection with Judaea. But as they were repulsed 
again and again, this yearning love changed into 
burning hatred. When Sanballat, who thought he 
had attained his aim by his connection with the 
high-priest's family, learned of the insult shown him 
in the banishment of his son-in-law Manasseh, be- 
cause of that priest's marriage with his daughter, the 
measure of his wrath was full. He cunningly con- 
ceived the plan of disorganising the Judaean com- 


munity, by the help of its own members. What if 
he were to raise a temple to the God of Israel, 
to contest the supremacy of the one at Jerusalem ? 
There were among his followers priests of the 
descendants of Aaron, who could legally conduct the 
service, as prescribed in the Torah, in the projected 
sanctuary. The dignity of high-priest could fitly be 
assumed by his son-in-law Manasseh, and the other 
Aaronides who had been expelled from the Temple 
could officiate with him. Everything appeared 
favourable to his design. Both his desire of wor- 
shipping the God of Israel, and his ambition to be at 
the head of a separate community, could easily be 
satisfied at the same time. 

On the summit of the fruitful Mount Gerizim, 
at the foot of the city of Shechem, in the very heart 
of the land of Palestine, Sanballat built his Temple, 
probably after the death of Artaxerxes (about 420). 

The Aaronides who had been expelled from Jeru- 
salem, and who were well versed in all the tenets of 
the Law, had selected this site because they knew 
that, according to the Book of Deuteronomy, the 
blessings were to be pronounced upon the followers 
of the Law of Moses from that mount. But the 
Samaritans gave to the old words a new interpreta- 
tion. They called, and still call to this day, Mount 
Gerizim " the Mount of Blessings," as if blessing and 
salvation proceeded from the mount itself. Even 
the town of Shechem they called " Blessing " (Ma- 
brachta). Sanballat, or the priests of this temple of 
Gerizim, declared that the mixed race of the Samari- 
tans were not descendants of the exiles placed in 
that country by an Assyrian king, but that, on the 
contrary, they were true Israelites, a remnant of the 
Ten Tribes, or of the tribes of Joseph and Ephraim. 
There may indeed have been amongst them some 
descendants of the families who, after the destruc- 
tion of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, clung to 
Samaria; but that the numerous Cuthaeans who 


gathered round Sanballat, together with the Am- 
monites and the Arabians, were descendants of 
Joseph and Ephraim and Israelites, was one of those 
ingenious and audacious fictions which, by their very 
exaggeration, stagger even those who are thoroughly 
convinced of their falsehood. Their language, how- 
ever, betrayed their mixed origin; it was a con- 
glomeration of Aramaic and other foreign elements, 
so that it is to this day impossible to define its origin 

But the venture was a successful one. The Sa- 
maritans had their temple, around which they 
gathered; they had priests from the house of Aaron ; 
they impudently opposed their Hargerizim, as they 
called their holy mount, to Mount Moriah ; they 
interpreted the Book of the Law to suit themselves, 
making it appear that God had designed Mount 
Gerizim as a site for a sanctuary, and they proudly 
called themselves Israelites. Sanballat and his fol- 
lowers, intent upon attracting a great many Judaeans 
to their community, tempted them with the offer of 
houses and land, and in everyway helped to support 
them. Those who had been guilty of crime in Judaea 
or Jerusalem, and feared punishment were received 
with open arms by the Samaritans. Out of such 
elements a new semi-Judaean community or sect was 
formed. Their home was in the somewhat limited 
district of Samaria, the centre of which was either the 
city that gave its name to the province, or the town of 
Shechem. The members of the new community be- 
came an active, vigorous, intelligent people, as if 
Sanballat, the founder, had infused his spirit into 
them. In spite of its diminutive size, this sect has 
continued until the present day. The existence of 
the Samaritans, as a community, may really be con- 
sidered a signal victory of the Judaean faith, for it 
was their religion alone that kept so mixed a people 
together; it became the loadstar of their lives, and to 
it they remained faithful, in spite of adversity and 


disaster. The Samaritans treated the Torah, brought 
to them by exiled priests, with as much reverence as 
the Judseans did, and regulated their religious and 
social life according to its requirements. But, in 
spite of this community of essential principles, the 
Judaeans were not delighted with this accession to 
the ranks of their faith. This first Judsean sect 
caused them as much sorrow as those which, at a 
later period, grew up among them. The Samaritans 
were not only their most bitter foes, but actually 
denied to them the right of existence as a com- 
munity. They declared that they alone \vere the 
descendants of Israel, disputing the sanctity of Jeru- 
salem and its Temple, and affirming that everything 
established by the Judaean people was a mere coun- 
terfeit of the old Israelitish customs. The Samari- 
tans were ever on the alert to introduce into their 
own country such improvements as were carried 
into effect in Judaea, though, had it been in their 
power, they would have destroyed the nation which 
was their model. On the part of the Judaeans, 
the hatred against their Samaritan neighbours was 
equally great. They spoke of them as "the foolish 
people who lived in Shechem." The enmity between 
Jerusalem and Samaria that existed in the time of 
the two kingdoms blazed up anew ; it no longer bore 
a political, but a religious character, and was therefore 
the more violent and intense. 

The existence of the Samaritan sect had, how- 
ever, a stimulating effect upon the Judaeans: as the 
latter continually came into collision with their oppo- 
nents, and were obliged to listen to doctrines in the 
highest degree distasteful to them, they were forced 
to a careful study of the essence of their own belief. 
The Samaritans helped them to acquire self-know- 
ledge. What was it that distinguished them, not 

^5 ^^ 

only from the heathen world, but also from those 
neighbours who worshipped the one God, and ac- 
knowledged as authoritative the same Revelation ? 

CH.XX. "JUDAISM." 393 

It was the thought that they possessed a peculiar 
creed, and the conception of "Judaism" gained 
clearness in their minds. Judaism no longer meant a 
nationality, but a religious conviction. The name 
" Judaean" lost its racial meaning, and was applied to 
any adherent of the Jewish faith, be he a descendant 
of Judah or Benjamin, an Aaronide or a Levite. The 
two fundamental principles of this faith were the ac- 
knowledgment of the one God, and of the Torah, in 
which God reveals himself through the mediation of 

The reverence and love with which the Sacred 
Book came to be regarded after the days of Ezra 
and Nehemiah were as deep as had been the general 
indifference to it in earlier times. "A wise man 
trusts the Law, and the Law is as true to him as 
the words of the truth-giving Urim and Thummim." 
The Torah was looked upon as the quintessence of 
all wisdom, and was honoured as such. Hebrew 
poetry, still full of life, glorified it with enthusiastic 
praise. It followed naturally that the Torah became 
the fundamental law of the little state or common- 
wealth of Judah. Before a Judaean undertook or 
desisted from any action, he would ask whether his 
course was in conformity with the Law. Slavery 
ceased to exist; even if a Judaean wished to sell 
himself as a slave he could not find a buyer. There- 
fore the year of Jubilee, intended as a year of release 
of slaves, became a superfluous institution. On the 
other hand, the Sabbatical year was strictly kept. 
The debts of the poor were then cancelled, and the 
fields lay fallow. Probably the Jr.dsean favourites at 
the Persian court had already demanded that, in the 
Sabbatical year, the taxes upon the produce of the 
fields be remitted. The poor were looked after with 
great solicitude, for the Pentateuch demanded that 
there should be no needy in the land. Alms-giving 
was looked upon in this new order of things as 
the exercise of the highest virtue. In every town, 


members of the Judaean community were appointed 
to devote themselves to the care of the poor. The 
constant denunciations by the prophets and psalmists 
of the hard-heartedness displayed towards the poor 
and the helpless were no longer justified. Justice 
was admirably administered, and so conscientiously 
was the law executed that the Judaean law-officers 
might have been held up as models to the rest of 
the world. Twice a week, on Mondays and Thurs- 
days, the market days, public courts of justice were 
held in all large towns. 

^ It was most natural that, as the life of the commu- 
nity was regulated according to the commands of 
the Torah, the spiritual leaders of the people should 
devise a supreme court of justice, possessing the 
power to make and interpret laws. They were 
but carrying out the words of Deuteronomy, in 
which was enjoined the establishment of a superior 
court of justice, where a final decision in doubtful 
cases could be given. The question now arose as 
to the number of members to constitute this court. 
Seventy elders had shared with Moses the great 
burden of his duties, the representatives of the 
seventy chief families of the children of Israel. It 
was therefore decided that the supreme tribunal 
and high court of justice should number seventy 
elders. This peculiar institution, which lasted until 
the destruction of the Judsean commonwealth, which 
became the strict guardian of the Law, and at times 
rose to great political importance, was doubtless 
called into life at this period. At no other time 
could it have arisen. Thus the great assembly which 
Nehemiah had originally summoned, merely for the 
purpose of accepting the obligations of the Torah, 
developed into a permanent council for settling all 
religious and social questions. The seventy members 
of the supreme council were probably chosen from 
various great families. The high-priest, whether 
he was worthy of the dignity or not, was placed 


at their head. The president was called " father 
of the tribunal" (Ab Beth-din). As soon as the 
council was formed, it proceeded to carry into effect 
what Ezra and Nehemiah had begun, namely, the 
application of Judaism or the Law to the life and cus- 
toms of the people. This supreme council brought 
about a complete revolution. 

All the changes which we notice two hundred 
years later in the Judaean commonwealth were its 
work ; the new regulations which tradition assigns to 
Ezra, and which were known under the name of So- 
pheric regulations (Dibre Sopherim) were the crea- 
tions of this body. It laid a sure foundation for the 
edifice that was to last thousands of years. During 
this period it was that regular readings from the 
Law were instituted ; on every Sabbath and on every 
Holy Day a portion from the Pentateuch was to be 
read to the assembled congregation. Twice a week, 
when the country people came from the villages 
to market in the neighbouring towns, or to appeal 
at the courts of justice, some verses of the Penta- 
teuch, however few, were to be read publicly. At first 
only the learned did the public reading, but gradually 
as it came to be looked upon as a great honour to 
belong to the learned class, every one was anxious 
to be called upon to do duty as a reader. But the 
characters in which the Torah was written were an 
obstacle in the way of overcoming illiteracy. The 
text of the Torah was written in an antique script 
with Phoenician or old Babylonian characters, which 
could be deciphered only by practised scribes. For 
the Judaeans in Persia, even more than for the 
Juclaeans in Palestine, the Torah was a book with 
seven seals. It was therefore necessary to transform 
the old-fashioned characters of the Hebrew Scriptures 
(Khetab Ibrith) into others, which were familiar to 
the inhabitants of the land between the Euphrates and 
the Tigris, and which the Judaeans of Palestine and 
of the Persian provinces used also for the ordinary 


purposes of every-day life. In order to distinguish 
it from the old writing, the new style was called 
the Assyrian (Khetab Ashurith), because it had arisen 
in one of the Assyrian provinces. The Samaritans, 
animated by a spirit of contradiction, retained the 
old Hebrew characters for their Pentateuch, only in 
order to be able to reproach their opponents with 
having introduced a forbidden innovation and falsified 
the Torah. Until the present day, their holy writ 
exists in these old-fashioned characters, and it is a 
closed book even to most of their priests. 

Owing to the regular reading of the Law and to 
its accessibility, there arose among the Judaeans an 
intellectual activity which gradually gave a peculiar 
character to the whole nation. The Torah became 
their spiritual and intellectual property, and their own 
inner sanctuary. At this time there sprang up an- 
other important institution, namely, schools for young 
men, where the text of the Law was taught, and love 
for its teachings and principles cultivated. The intel- 
lectual leaders of the people continually enjoined on 
the rising generation, " Bring up a great many dis- 
ciples." And what they enjoined so strenuously on 
others they themselves must have zealously laboured 
to perform. One of these religious schools (Beth- 
Waad) was established in Jerusalem. The teachers 
were called scribes (Sopherim) or wise men ; the dis- 
ciples, pupils of the wise (Talmide Chachamim). The 
wise men or scribes had a twofold activity : on the 
one hand, to explain the Torah, and on the other, to 
make the laws applicable both to individual and 
communal life. This supplementary interpretation 
was called "exposition" (Midrash) ; it was not arbi- 
trary, but rested upon certain rules laid down for 
the proper interpretation of the Law. The supreme 
council and the houses of learning worked together, 
and one completed the other. 

The result was a most important mental develop- 
ment, which impressed upon the descendants of the 


patriarchs a new characteristic so strongly as to make 
it seem second nature in them : the impulse to investi- 
gate, to interpret, and to tax their ingenuity in order to 
discover some new and hidden meaning either in the 


word or the substance. The supreme council, the 
source of these institutions and this new movement, 
did not confine itself to the interpretation of the ex- 
isting laws, and to their application to daily life, but 
it also drew up its own code of laws, which were to 
regulate, to stimulate and to strengthen the religious 
and social life of the people. There was an old maxim 
of great repute in Judaea: "Make a fence about the 
Law." By this maxim the teacher of the Law was 
directed to forbid certain things in themselves per- 
missible, which, however, touched too closely upon the 
forbidden points, or might be confounded with them. 
This method of guarding against any possible in- 
fringement of the Law, by means of a " fence " 
(Seyag), had its justification in the careless, unsettled 
habits of those early days. It was absolutely neces- 
sary that the mass of the people, who were wholly 
uneducated, should accustom themselves to the per- 
formance of the precepts and duties enjoined by the 

An entire set of laws, made for the purpose of 
preventing the violation of the commands of the 
Torah, belong to the Sopheric age. For instance, 
the degrees of relationship considered unlawful for 
matrimony were increased in number; to prevent 
the violation of chastity, men were forbidden to hold 
private interviews with married women in solitary 
places. The loose way in which the Sabbath was 
observed in Nehemiah's age was replaced by an extra- 
ordinarily rigid observance of the Sabbath. In order 
to prevent any possible violation of the Sabbath or 
of the festival days, all work was to cease before 
sunset on the preceding evening, and an official was 
appointed to proclaim, by the blast of a horn, the 
proper hour for repose. But the Sabbath day and the 


festivals were intended to create a feeling of both 
devotion and exaltation in the observers of the Law, 
and to banish from their memory the cares and the 
troubles of the working days. It was partly to express 
this that it became a custom in those days to drink 
a goblet of wine at the coming in and at the going 
out of the festivals, and to pronounce a blessing upon 
them, at their commencement declaring that these 
days are holy, and sanctified by God (Kiddush), and 
at their close, that they have a peculiar significance 
in contradistinction to the working days (Habdalah). 
By laws such as these, which were not permitted to 
remain a dead letter, the Sabbath acquired a holy 

The first evening of the Paschal feast, falling in 
the spring time, was also invested with peculiar import- 
ance. It was intended to arouse every year and to keep 
alive a grateful remembrance of the deliverance from 
Egypt, and the consciousness of being in possession 
of precious freedom. It became either a law or a 
custom to drink four glasses of wine upon this festival 
of rejoicing, and even the poorest managed to obtain 
the draught "that rejoices the heart." On the eve 
of the Passover, the members of each family, with 
their most intimate friends, gathered round the table, 
not to indulge in a luxurious meal, but to thank 
and praise the God of their fathers; they ate bitter 
herbs, broke unleavened bread, tasted some of the 
paschal lamb in commemoration of their freedom, and 
drank the four goblets of wine to celebrate this bright 
festival with a cheerful heart. Gradually the custom 
arose for several families to celebrate the Paschal 
eve in common, the whole assembly (Chaburah) to 
partake of the lamb, amid the singing of psalms. 
The Paschal eve became in time a delightful family 

The prayers prescribed on Sopheric authority had 
no hard and fast form, but the line of thought which 
they were to contain was, in general, laid down. The 


form of prayer used in the Temple became the 
model of the services in all prayer-houses, or houses 
of gathering (Beth-ha-Keneseth). Divine service 
was performed at early morning in a court of the 
Temple, and commenced with one or more specially 
selected psalms of praise and thanksgiving. At the 
conclusion of the psalms, the whole congregation 
exclaimed: "Praise be to the God of Israel, who 
alone doeth wonders, and praised be the glory of 
His name for ever and ever, and may His glory fill 
the whole earth "; upon which followed a prayer of 
thanksgiving for the light of the sun, which God had 
given to the whole world, and for the light of the 
Law, which He had given to Israel. This was sue- 


ceeded by the reading of several portions from the 
Torah, the Ten Commandments and the Schema : 
" Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one," 
to which the whole congregation responded : " Blessed 
be the name of the glory of His kingdom for ever 
and ever." The principal prayer, the Tephillah, was 
composed of six short parts : a thanksgiving that 
God had chosen the children of Israel as His ser- 
vants ; an acknowledgment of the Divine Power, as 
shown in nature, by the life-giving rain, and as 
manifested in man, by the future resurrection of the 
dead; an acknowledgment of the holiness of God; 
a supplication for the accomplishment of all prayers 
and for the acceptance of sacrifice; a thanksgiving for 
the preservation of life, and finally a prayer for peace, 
following the blessing of the priest. In the afternoon 
and evening, the congregation assembled again for 
prayer, but the service was short, as the Psalms and 
chapters of the Law were omitted. 

On the Sabbath and festive days, the morning 
service was not -materially different, except that a 
particular prayer was interpolated, in which special 
mention was made of the sanctity of the day, and a 
longer portion from the Torah was read at its close. 
In time a portion from the prophets, especially a 


chapter^ bearing upon the character of the day, was 
read. The opposition in which the Judaeans stood 
to the Samaritans prompted this reading from the 
prophets. For the Samaritans who denied the sanc- 
tity of the Temple and of Jerusalem, rejected the 
prophetical writings, because they contained con- 
stant allusions to the holy city and the chosen sanc- 
tuary. So much the more necessary did it ap- 
pear to the upholders of Judaism to publish these 
writings. In consequence of this regulation, the 
words of the prophets who had but rarely been 
listened to while they lived, were now read in every 
Judaean house of prayer, and though they were 
but partially understood by the greater number of 
the congregation, nevertheless they became mighty 
levers to arouse the enthusiasm of the nation. As 
these readings ended the morning service, they were 
called " the conclusion" (Haphtarah). It thus became 
necessary to make an authoritative collection of the 
prophetic writings, and to decide which of the books 
were to be excluded, and which adopted. This 
choice was probably made by the legislative body of 
the Sopheric age. The collection embraced the four 
historical books, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, 
which were called the Earlier Prophets ; then came 
three books, great in interest, bearing the names of 
the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel ; and lastly 
the twelve minor prophets, Hosea, Amos, Joel, Oba- 
diah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, 
Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi, these twelve, in 
conjunction with the three greater, being styled the 
Later Prophets. These works were all recognised 
as Holy Writ, but were placed next to the Torah, as 
of secondary degree of holiness. 

In this way the divine service of the Sopheric age 
was constructed; it was simple and edifying; it con- 
tained nothing superfluous, disturbing or wearying, 
and it embodied the thought and spirit of those time- 
honoured treasures, the writings of the prophets and 


the psalmists. It contained only one foreign element, 
the belief in the resurrection of the dead on the last 
day. With this exception, everything was taken from 
the pure spring of the earliest teachings. 

The inhabitants of the country towns introduced 
in their own congregations an exact copy of the 
divine service as it was conducted in Jerusalem. 
They needed no urging to this by mandatory enact- 
ments. Thus in each town, houses of prayer (Syna- 
gogues, Moade-El) were established, in which was 
introduced the order of prayer which is the ground- 
work of the divine service of the present day. Be- 
sides the prayers, sacrifices were offered up accord- 
ing to the letter of the Law. These two forms of 
divine service were blended into one; they com- 
pleted and helped one another. The spiritual service 
adapted itself to the sacrificial ceremonies; three 
times during the day, whilst the priests were offering 
up their sacrifices, the congregations assembled in 
the prayer-houses, whereas on the Sabbath and on 
festivals, when special sacrifices were offered up in the 
Temple (Korbati Mussaph), the congregation assem- 
bled four times for prayer (Tephillath Mussaph). 
But even the sacrificial service could not shut out the 
living word ; it had to grow, as it were, more spiritual, 
and it became customary to sing the Psalms at inter- 
vals between the offerings, because of the great 
influence which this sublime poetry possessed. 

There was, however, one very prominent feature 
connected with the Temple and the sacrifices, which 
was opposed to the essentially spiritual tendency of 
the prophetic and psalmistic poetry. It was that 
which related to the laws concerning purity and im- 
purity. The law of the Torah had certainly given 
very precise regulations on these matters ; an unclean 
person could not bring offerings, or approach the 
sanctuary, or even taste consecrated food. There were 
many degrees of uncleanness, and the Law prescribed 
how unclean persons might be purified. The last 


act of purification always consisted in bathing in 
fresh running water. These laws would never have 
attained such far-reaching importance, involving every 
station in life, had it not been for the sojourn of the 
Judseans, during so many centuries, among the Per- 
sians, whose much more stringent purification laws 
were rigorously observed. The statutes concerning 
uncleanness, according to the Iranian Avesta of the 
Persians, whose priests were the Magi, were extremely 
strict, and the means adopted for purification revolt- 
ing. Dwelling among the Magi, the Judaeans absorbed 
much from them. The striking resemblance of many 
of their laws and customs to their own could not 
escape their observation, and they yielded to Magian 

The fundamental conception of the Deity, as of one 
incorporeal perfect God, was so firmly implanted in 
the heart of every Judaean, that no one would allow 
himself to be influenced by the conception of the 
Persian god of light, Ahura-Mazda (Ormuzd), how- 
ever spiritual that conception might be. Their seers, 
full of penetration, speedily divined the error of the 
Iranian doctrine of acknowledging two great rival 
powers, the god of light and goodness, and the god 
of darkness and sin, Angro-Mainyus (Ahriman). 
They contrasted that doctrine with their own belief, 
that the God of Israel created light and darkness, 
good and evil. They denied that the world and 
mankind are being perpetually drawn in divergent 
directions by two rival powers, but are destined to 
live in peace and unity. The spiritual leaders of 
the Judseans in the Sopheric age expressed this belief 
in one of the morning prayers: "God is the Creator 
of light and of darkness, He has created peace and 
has made everything." But although the Judaeans re- 
sisted any alteration in their conception of the Deity, 
still they could not prevent many of the ideas and cus- 
toms of the Persians from gaining ground among the 
nation. They imagined that they were adding to the 


glory of God if, in imitation of the Iranians, they sur- 
rounded Him with myriads of obedient servants. The 
"messengers of God," whom we read of in the Bible 
as executors of His will, became, after the pattern of 
Persian beliefs, heavenly creatures, endowed with 
peculiar characteristics and special individuality. 
The people pictured to themselves the divine 
throne, surrounded by a countless throng of heavenly 
beings, or angels, awaiting a sign to do the bidding 
of God. " Thousand times thousands served Him, 
and myriad times myriads stood before Him." Like 
the Persians, the Judaeans called the angels " the holy 
watchers" (Irin-Kadishin). The angels received spe- 
cial names : Michael, Gabriel, the strong, Raphael, 
the healer, Uriel or Suriel, Matatoron, and others. 

As fancy had changed the Yazatas into angels, and 
given them a Hebrew character and Hebrew names, so 
also were the bad spirits, or Daevas, introduced among 
the Judaeans. Satan was a copy of Angro-Mainyus, 
but he was not placed in juxtaposition to the God of 
Israel, for this would have been a denial of the funda- 
mental doctrine of the Judaeans. He, the Holy One, 
high and mighty and all-powerful, could not be 
limited, or in any way interfered with by one of His 
own creatures. Still the first step had been taken, 
and, in the course of time, Satan grew to be as 
strong and powerful as his Iranian prototype, and was 
endowed with a kingdom of darkness of his own, 
where he reigned as the supreme power of evil. 
Once created in the image of Angro-Mainyus, Satan 
had to be surrounded with a host of attendant demons 
or evil spirits (Shedim, Mazikim, Malache Chabalah). 
One demon, as an adaptation of the Iranian Daeva 
names, was called Ashmodai; another, by the name 
of Samael, was at the head of a troop of persecuting 
spirits. The angel of death (Malach-ham Maveth), 
lying in ambush, ready to seize upon men's lives, was 
endowed with a thousand eyes. These creatures of 
the imagination soon took firm hold of the Jewish 


soul, and with them many usages resembling those 
of the Magi invaded the Jewish religion ; and espe- 
cially the laws of purification became more and 
more rigorous. 

It was also at that time that a new doctrine of retri- 
bution was developed in Judaism. According to the 
Iranian doctrine, the universe was divided into two 
great kingdoms ; that of light and that of darkness ; 
the pure, or worshippers of Ahura-Mazda, were ad- 
mitted into the region of light (Paradise), and the 
wicked, the followers of Angro-Mainyus, into the king- 
dom of darkness (Hell). After death, the soul re- 
mained during three days near the body it had ten- 
anted; then, according to its life upon earth, it was 
taken by the Yazatas to Paradise, or was drawn down 
by the Daevas into Hell. This idea of retribution 
after death was adopted by the Judseans. The Gar- 
den of Eden (Gan-Eden), where the story of the 
Creation placed the first human beings whilst they 
lived in a state of innocence, was transformed into 
Paradise, and the Valley of Hinnom (Ge-Hinnom), in 
which, since the days of Ahaz, sacrifices of children 
had been offered up, gave the name to the newly- 
created Hell. In what way could such new beliefs 
have crept into the Judaean faith? That is as little 
capable of demonstration as is the way in which the 
pores of the skin become impregnated with a disease 
that has poisoned the atmosphere. However, these 
views about angels and Satan with his attendant 
spirits, about Paradise and Hell, never obtained the 
dignity of fixed dogmas which it would be mortal 
sin to doubt, but on the contrary, during that time, 
and in all future time, their adoption or repudiation was 
left to the discretion of the individual. Only one 
belief emanating from the Iranian religion, that of 
the resurrection of the dead, became part of the 
spiritual life of the Judaeans, until it grew at last 
to be a binding dogma. The Magi had taught 
and insisted upon this doctrine. They believed 


that the re-awakening of the dead would take place 
at a future day, when Ahura-Mazda will have con- 
quered and destroyed his rival, when the god of 
darkness will have to give up the bodies of the 
4 ' pure men " which he has stolen. The Judaism of 
the Sopheric age adopted this hopeful and inspiriting 
doctrine all the more readily, as allusions to it existed 
in the Judaic writings. The prophets had constantly 
made references to the day of the last judgment, and 
the scribes, inferring that the resurrection of the dead 
was meant, made it an article of faith amongst their 
people, and in the daily prayer, praise was rendered 
to God for awakening the dead to life. 

At a later day, when the Judsean nation was 
struggling with death, a seer, comforting the suf- 
ferers, said: 

" Many of those who are sleeping in dust will awake, some to 
eternal life, and some to disgrace and everlasting abhorrence." 
(DANIEL xii. 2.) 

In this manner a peculiar doctrine of retaliation, 
with a brilliant picture of the future, or of the next 
world (Olam ha-Ba), was evolved. A magical world 
unfolded itself to the eye, intoxicating the believer. 
He saw the time come when all discords of life 
would change into harmony, when all disappoint- 
ments would vanish, when the pious, the faithful, 
and the just, who had suffered so much upon earth, 
would rise from their graves and enter on eternal 
life in innocence and purity. Even the sinners who 
had erred only from frivolity and weakness would 
be purified by penitence in Hell, and would enjoy the 
pleasures of eternal life. But how was this resurrec- 
tion to take place, and how was this beautiful new 
world to be organised? Imagination could not find 
an answer to such a question. Fervent faith and 
enthusiastic hope do not indulge in subtle inquiries; 
they are contented with giving the pious the com- 
forting assurance that a just recompense is in store 


for them, in a future life, and thus assuaging the sor- 
rows of an unhappy earthly existence. Although Ju- 
daism received the essence of this teaching from 
without, yet the power of enriching it, and of endow- 
ing it with the faculty of working immeasurable good 
came from within. The foreign origin of this belief 
becoming finally obliterated, it was considered as an 
original Judsean doctrine. Only the Samaritans ob- 
jected, for a considerable time, to the belief in the 
resurrection and to the idea of a future life. 

During this long period of nearly two hundred 
years, while the Judcean community established 
itself, and Judaism developed by the enlargement of 
its own doctrines and the adoption of foreign ele- 
ments from the death of Nehemiah to the destruc- 
tion of the Persian kingdom we do not find a 
single personage mentioned who assisted in that 
great work, which was to outlive and defy the 
storms of ages. Was it from excess of modesty 
that the spiritual leaders of the people, with whom 
the new order of things had originated, veiled 
themselves in obscurity, in order to eliminate from 
their work every vestige of individualism? Or 
is it the ingratitude of posterity that has effaced 
these names? Or, again, were the members of 
the Great Council not sufficiently gifted or re- 
markable to merit any particular distinction, and was 
the community indebted for its vigour, and Judaism 
for its growth and development, entirely to the zeal 
of a whole community, in which every individual will 
was completely absorbed ? Whatever was the cause, 
the astonishing fact remains, that of these long stretches 
of time but few details have become known to us. 
Either no annals were kept of the events of those 
years, or they have been lost. It is true there were 
no very remarkable events to describe, the activity 
of the Judaean community being entirely restricted 
to its inward life ; there was nothing which might 
have appeared of sufficient importance to be chron- 


icled for posterity. There was indeed but little for 
the historian to write about: a stranger might per- 
haps have been struck by the changes which were 
gradually unfolding themselves, but to those who 
lived and worked in the community, what was there 
of a peculiar or extraordinary nature which might 
deserve to be perpetuated in history? 

The Judaean people occupied themselves almost 
entirely with peaceful avocations ; they understood 
but little of the use of arms ; perhaps not even 
enough to preserve their own territories against the 
attacks of their neighbours. The prophet Ezekiel 
had described what the condition of the Jews would 
be after their return from captivity: 

" In the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is turned 
away from the sword and is gathered out of many people against the 
mountains of Israel." (ZEK. xxxviii. 8.) 

A peaceful, quiet existence naturally withdraws 
itself from curious observation. In the wars which 
were often raging on their borders, the Judsean 
people certainly took no part. Under Artaxerxes II., 
surnamed Mnemon (404-362), and under Artaxerxes 
III., surnamed Ochus (36 1-338), leaders of the discon- 
tented Egyptians, some of whom called themselves 
kings, endeavoured to free their country from the 
Persian yoke, and to restore it to its former inde- 
pendence. In order to be enabled to offer effectual 
resistance to the armies collected for the purpose of 
putting down these insurrections, the ephemeral 
kings of Egypt joined the Persian satraps of Phoenicia, 
to whom Judsea had also been allotted. Persian 
troops often passed along the Judaean coasts of the 
Mediterranean towards Egypt, or Egyptians towards 
Phoenicia, and Greek mercenaries, hired by either 
power, marched to and fro, and all this warlike 
array could be constantly observed by the Judseans 
from their mountain-tops. They did not always 
remain mere passive spectators ; for, though they 


were not compelled to join the armies, they were 
certainly not exempt from various charges and trib- 
utes. The relations between the Judseans and 
the Persians was at the same time somewhat dis- 
turbed. The latter, influenced by foreign example, 
began to practise idolatry. The goddess of love, 
who, under the different names of Beltis, Mylitta, 
or Aphrodite, was constantly brought under the 
notice of the Persians, exercised a fascinating power 
over them. The victories they had achieved and the 
riches they had acquired, inclined them to sensual 
pleasures, and they were easily enthralled by the 
goddess, and induced to serve and worship her. As 
soon as they had adopted this new deity, they gave 
her a Persian name, Anahita, Anaitis, and included 
her in their mythology. Artaxerxes II. sanctioned 
her worship, and had images of her placed every- 
where in his great kingdom, in the three principal 
cities, Babylon, Susa, and Ecbatana, as well as in 
Damascus, Sardes, and in all the towns of Persia and 
Bactria. Through this innovation the Persian re- 
ligion sustained a double injury. A strange deity 
was admitted, and image-worship introduced. Thus 
the spiritual link which had bound the Persians to the 
followers of Judaism their common abhorrence of 
idolatry was broken. No longer was "pure incense " 
offered to the incorporeal God of the Judaeans. Having 
compelled his own people to bow down to this newly 
adopted goddess of love, Artaxerxes tried, as it 
appears, to force her worship upon the Judseans ; 
the latter were cruelly treated, in order to make 
them renounce their religion, but they chose the 
severest punishments, and even death itself, rather 
than abjure the faith of their fathers. It is related that 
after his war with the Egyptians and their king 
Tachos (36 1-360), Artaxerxes banished many Judseans 
from their country, and sent them to Hyrkania, on 
the shores of the Caspian Sea. If this account may 
be considered historical, the banishment of the Ju- 


daeans must surely have been a mode of persecution 
inflicted upon them on account of their fidelity to 
their laws and their God ; for it is hardly to be sup- 
posed that they took part in the revolt against 
Persia, which was then spreading from Egypt to 
Phoenicia. In Jerusalem there was much suffering 
at that time, caused by one of those abject creatures, 
who, owing to the growing degeneracy of the Persian 
Court and increasing weakness of the kingdom, 
raised themselves from the dust, and ruled both the 
countries and the throne. This was the eunuch 
Bao-oas (Bag-oses), who under Artaxerxes III. became 

o \ o / * 

so powerful that he was able to set aside the king, 
and fill the throne according to his own pleasure. 
Before attaining this supreme position, Bagoas had 
been the commander of the troops stationed in 
Syria and Phoenicia, and he had taken advantage of 
the opportunities thus offered him to acquire great 
riches. He received bribes from Joshua, the ambi- 
tious son of the high-priest, who hoped thus to secure 
that post for himself. Joshua had an elder brother, 
Johanan, and both were sons of Joiada, one of 
whose relations, having connected himself with San- 
ballat, had been banished from Jerusalem by Nehe- 
miah, and subsequently had introduced the rival wor- 
ship on Mount Gerizim. After the death of Joiada, the 
younger son, trusting in the countenance of Bagoas, 
came forward to seize the high-priest's diadem. 
The elder brother was enraged at this presumption, 
and a struggle, which ended in bloodshed, took place 
between the two in the Temple itself. Johanan slew 
Bagoas' s protege in the Sanctuary. A sad omen for 
the future ! Upon hearing what had occurred at 
Jerusalem, the eunuch instantly proceeded thither, 
not to avenge the death of Joshua, but, under the 
pretext of meting out well-deserved punishment, to 
extort money for himself. For each lamb that was 
offered at the daily services in the Temple, the people 
were ordered to pay 50 drachms as expiatory money, 


and this sum was to be paid every morning before the 
sacrifice was performed. Bagoas also violated the law 
which forbade any layman's entering the Sanctuary, 
and when the priest, in accordance with the prohibi- 
tory decree, tried to prevent his entrance into the 
Temple, he asked, mockingly, if he was not so pure 
as the son of the high-priest, who had been mur- 
dered there ? 

The people paid the expiatory money for seven 
years, when, for some reason, they were freed from 
their burden. The disfavour into which the Judsean 
nation had fallen with the last Persian king was 
turned to account by their malevolent neighbours, 
the Samaritans, in order to injure them to their 
utmost power. They appear to have regained by 
force or cunning the border districts of Ramathaim, 
Apherema and Lydda, which they had formerly been 
obliged to quit. The Judaeans were now reduced to 
a struggle for mere existence. Few and brief had 
been the glimpses of light which had brightened the 
annals of the Judaean communily during the last two 
hundred years ! This light had illumined the first en- 
thusiastic days of the return from captivity during the 
reign of Darius, who showered favours upon them, and 
during the time of Nehemiah's presence and zealous 
activity at Jerusalem. With these exceptions, their 
lot had been oppression, poverty and pitiable helpless- 
ness. They appear to us in their sadness and misery 
to be ever asking with tearful, uplifted eyes, "Whence 
shall help come to us ?" and traces of this helplessness 
and misery are visible in the \vritings that have come 
down from that period. While the exile lasted, the 
grief and the longing, which kept the captives in 
constant and breathless expectation, had brought 
forth the fairest blossoms of prophecy and poetry ; 
but as soon as the excitement ceased, and hope be- 
came a reality, the mental and poetical activity 
began to sink. The later prophetical utterances, if 
beauty of form be considered, cannot bear com- 


parison with those of the Captivity. The poetry of 
the Psalms became weak and full of repetitions, or 
else borrowed the bloom of older productions. The 
graceful idyl of the book of Ruth forms an exception 
in the literature of this period. Historical writings 
were, from causes easy to explain, completely neg- 
lected. Ezra and Nehemiah had given only a 
short and unpolished account of the occurrences 
they had witnessed. Quite at the end of this epoch, 
towards the close of the Persian dominion, it appears 
that a Levite compiled an historical work (Chronicles), 
narrating the events from the Creation down to his 
own time. 

But during the life of the author of the annals, or 
shortly after he had finished his history, a new period 
dawned, which gave rise to fresh mental exertions 
among the Judaeans, and brought forth proofs of their 
capacity and worth. This new period was ushered in 
by the Greeks. They wrought a thorough change in 
the manners, customs and thoughts of other nations, 
and materially raised the degree of civilisation among 
the various peoples then known in the world. How- 
ever, the diffusion of this civilisation, which was the 
consequence of the acquisition of political power and 
widespread conquest, was owing, not to a purely 
Greek race, but to a mixed people of Greeks and 
Barbarians, namely, the Macedonians. The grace and 
charm of the Greeks have caused their faults to be 
leniently regarded by mankind, but they were not 
overlooked by the Ruler of the world, and their sins 
brought retributive punishment upon them. Advan- 
tage was easily taken of their mutual jealousies, their 
many foibles, their restless, unruly disposition, and 
Greece was apt to fall a prey to any ambitious leader 
who was an adept in the art of intoxicating flattery, 
lavish with his gold, and supported by martial force. 
Such was the case with Philip, king of Macedonia, who 
dazzled all with his cunning and his wealth, his valour 
and his army. All Greece lay at his feet. But even 


nov v when the king proposed, as a satisfaction to 
thei r national pride, that a war should be undertaken 
aga mst Persia, in which they might at once punish 
the latter for inroads upon their country, and win 
fam e an d booty for themselves, petty feelings of jeal- 
ousY continued to exist among the people, and to pre- 
vent common action. Some of the States could not 
be influenced, and refused to send delegates to the 
ass ^mbly ; whilst other States, or their representa- 
tives, had to be bribed to give their consent to the 
p ro posed plan. Philip's project of war against 
p er sia was cut short by the hand of an assassin. 
T he n appeared his son, the great Alexander, who 
was destined to remodel entirely the relations of the 
var jous countries, and to draw the peaceful inhabi- 
tant 5 f Juda,-a into the vortex of the great world 
conflicts. New troubles and new trials were brought 
U p O n the Judsean people by the convulsions felt 
fror 11 one end of the known world to the other. A 
judpean seer compared Alexander to a leopard 
endowed with the wings of an eagle. In two battles 
he gave to the rotten Persian monarchy its death- 
blo\ v Asia Minor, Syria, and Phoenicia lay at his 
f ee t, and kings and princes, attired in all their pomp, 
did homage to the conqueror. Tyre and Gaza, the 
one after a seven months', the other after a two 
mor iths' siege, were both taken (August and Novem- 
ber 33 2 )' an d m et with a cruel fate. 

plow did the insignificant dominion of Judaea fare 
w i tr i the invincible hero before whom Egypt, the 
propd land of the Pharaohs, had fallen humbly pros- 
t r atP? The historical records of those times have 
corrf 6 down to us only in the form of legends, and 
con sec l uen tly gi ye us no authentic account of the 
p as oing events. It is scarcely credible that the Judae- 
ans were prevented from doing homage to Alexan- 
der through fear of incurring any guilt by breaking 
thei r oatri to their Persian rulers. They had never 
take 11 su ch an oath of fealty, but even if they had, 


after their treatment by the last Persian kings, they 
would not have felt much remorse in breaking it. 
There is no doubt that the story of Alexander's ap- 
proach to Jerusalem, and the favours which he heaped 
upon the Judaeans in consequence of a peculiar 
vision, rests upon a legend. The High Priest, so 
it is related, dressed in his holy garments, followed by 
a troop of priests and Levites, went forth to meet the 
youthful warrior, and produced so great and extra- 
ordinary an effect upon him, that his anger was at 
once changed into kindness and good will. The 
explanation given by Alexander to his followers was 
that the High Priest thus attired had appeared to him 
in a dream which he had had in Macedonia, and had 
promised him victory. According to one legend, it 
was the High Priest Jaddua, according to another, 
his grandson Simon, who produced this effect upon 
the Macedonian hero. In reality, the meeting be- 
tween Alexander and the envoys of the Judaean com- 
munity no doubt passed simply and naturally enough. 
The High Priest, perhaps Onias I., Jaddua's son and 
Simon's father, went forward, like the kings and 
princes of the land, with a suite of the elders, to do 
homage and swear allegiance to the conqueror. 
Alexander was a noble, generous conqueror, who 
punished cruelly only resistance to his will, but in no 
way interfered with the peculiar development, the 
customs, or religious rites of any nation under 
his sway. He did not force the Grecian faith on any 
nation, and the favour which he granted to other 
nations he certainly did not deny to the Judaeans. 
They were only obliged to pay the Macedonian gov- 
ernor the same tax on their lands as the Persian 
satrap had received. 

The first meeting of Greece and Judaea, both of 
which were, in different ways, to offer civilisation to the 
world, was of a friendly character, although the one 
appeared in all her glory and might, the other in her 
weakness and humility. Judaea became part of a 


province, which was bounded on the north by Mount 
Taurus and Mount Lebanon, and on the south by 
Egypt, and was called Hollow Syria (Coelesyria), to 
distinguish it from the Higher Syria, which lay in the 
neighbourhood of the Euphrates. The governor of 
this extensive province, which had formerly been 
divided into many independent states, resided in Sa- 
maria, from which we may infer that it was a fortified 
and populous town. Samaria, however, was indebted 
for this preference or dangerous station to its situa- 
tion in the centre of the province and in a fertile 
region. Andromachos was the name of the governor 
whom Alexander placed over the Ccelesyrians. Why 
were the Samaritans displeased with this apparent dis- 
tinction? Did they feel themselves hampered in their 
movements by the presence of the Governor, or was 
their anger roused by jealousy at the favour shown by 
Alexander to the Judseans, whom they hated so bit- 
terly ? The violent resentment of the Samaritans, or 
at least of their leaders, went so far that, heedless of 
the consequences, they rose up against Andromachos, 
seized him and consigned him to the flames (331). 
Alexander's wrath, upon hearing of this act of atro- 
city which had been committed upon one of his 
generals, was as great as it was just. Had this small, 
insignificant people dared defy one who had sub- 
dued all Egypt, the proud priests of which country 
had prostrated themselves before him, proclaiming 
his pre-eminence and his glory? Upon his return 
from Egypt, while hastening to conquer Persia, he 
hurried to Samaria to avenge the murder of Andro- 
machos. The authors of the horrible deed were put 
to death under cruel tortures, another governor called 
Memnon was placed over Samaria, and the town was 
filled with Macedonians. In various other ways, 
Alexander appears to have mortified and humiliated 
the Samaritans, and knowing that they were enemies 
of the Judaeans, he favoured the latter in order to 
mark his displeasure towards the former. Several 


border lands lying between Samaria and Judsea, which 
had often occasioned strife between the two peoples, 
he awarded to the Judaeans, and likewise freed the 
latter from the burden of taxation during the Sab- 
batical year. This favour, of small importance to him 
who gave it, was a great boon to those who received 
it, and inflamed the hatred of the Samaritans against 
the Judieans; every gust of wind seemed to add new 
fuel to their enmity, which, however, as long as Alex- 
ander lived, they were obliged to conceal. His won- 
derfully rapid and victorious campaigns as far as the 
Indus and the Caucasus seemed to throw a spell 
over the world, and to paralyse all independent action. 
When he was not at war, peace reigned supreme, 
from Greece to India, and from Ethiopia to the shores 
of the Caspian sea. Alexander was the first con- 
queror who deemed it a wise policy to allow the 
peculiar customs of any conquered nation to be main- 
tained; he insisted that respect should be shown to 
their various religious forms of worship. In Egypt 
he honoured Apis and Ammon, and in Babylonia the 
gods of Chaldaea. Thus he determined upon rebuild- 
ing the temple of the Babylonian idol Bel, which had 
been destroyed by Artaxerxes. To accomplish 
this, he ordered his soldiers to clear away the ruins 
which had accumulated over the foundations of the 
building. All obeyed with the exception of the Judas - 
ans who, either voluntarily or by compulsion, were 
serving in his army. They refused their help towards 
the reconstruction of the idolatrous temple. Natur- 
ally enough, their disobedience received severe chas- 
tisement from their superior officers, but they bore 
their punishment bravely, rather than comply with an 
order which demanded the transgression of one of the 
principal injunctions of their faith. When Alexander 
heard of this case of conscience and of the religious 
fortitude displayed by the Judaean soldiers, he was 
generous enough to grant them his pardon. But in 
that incident we may read an omen of the conflicts 


which were to take place between Judaism and 

In the midst of his vast undertaking that of 
uniting the whole world into one monarchy the 
young hero died (323), leaving no lawful heir to his 
throne, no successor to his great mind. Confusion 
arose in all parts of the world, as well as among the 
armies of Alexander, dire as if the laws of Nature had 
been upset, and the sequence of the morrow after 
to-day were no longer certain. Fearful battles, 
which resembled the wars of the Titans, ensued. 
Alexander's warriors, with the experience gained on 
a thousand battle-fields, would, had they only been 
united, have been capable of supporting the structure 
of the Macedonian kingdom; but, although they were 
not actually Greeks, and even looked down upon the 
latter, they resembled them in their spirit of insubordi- 
nation, their want of discipline, and their passion for 
self-advancement, which greatly surpassed their zeal 
for the good of the State. Like the Greeks, they 
coveted power as a means to obtain luxuries and 
to enable them to indulge in licentious pleasures; in 
short, they had become adepts in corrupt practices. 

The consequence of this state of things was the 
dissolution of the Macedonian kingdom and its divi- 
sion among the contending leaders. Ptolemy I. Soter, 
son of Lagos, reigned in Egypt. By means of 
a successful war he acquired Ccelesyria, together with 
Judaea. In 320, he demanded the surrender of Jerusa- 
lem, but its inhabitants refused to open their gates. 
On a Sabbath, however, he contrived to surprise the 
city, and, as the Judseans would not use weapons of 
defence on that day, he was able to seize the city and 
to make numerous prisoners, whom he carried away to 
Egypt. Many Samaritans shared their fate, probably 
because they had likewise attempted resistance. Both 
Judaeans and Samaritans could have enjoyed happi- 
ness at least, as much happiness as was possible in 
those hard, cruel times had they remained subjects 


of the Lagidian Ptolemy, who was the gentlest of the 
warring successors of Alexander. He knew how 
to recognise and appreciate merit, and when his own 
interests were not at stake, he was just and merci- 
ful ; but Ptolemy had no acknowledged right upon 
Coelesyria. His acquisition of those lands had not 
been confirmed by the various regents of the Mace- 
donian kingdom who followed each other in rapid 
succession, and kept up the semblance of a united 
government. Ptolemy roused the envy of the con- 
federate captains, and in particular that of one of 
his former allies and fellow-conspirators, Antigonus. 
This bold soldier was endowed with inventive 
genius and a fiery nature, and had resolved upon the 
subjection of all his associates, in order to seize and 
hold the whole kingdom of Macedonia in his own 
strong hand. After many years of warlike prepara- 
tions, a decisive battle at last took place between 
Demetrius, the son of Antigonus, and Ptolemy, which 
ended disastrously for the former. The battle of 
Gaza, fought in the spring of 312, was a memorable 
one, for from that event Seleucus, who had come as 
a fugitive to Ptolemy, dated the beginning of his 
power by introducing the new era called Seleuci- 
daean, or Greek, which also came into use among- 
the Judaeans, and was longest retained by them. 
In consequence of the defeat at Gaza, Demetrius 
was obliged to withdraw to the north, leaving 
the whole country to the conqueror. Only a short 
time elapsed, however, before Antigonus and his son, 
having joined their forces, compelled Ptolemy to re- 
treat to Egypt. He caused the fortified sea-coast 
and inland cities, Acco, Joppa, Gaza, and Jerusalem 
to be demolished, so that they might not become 
places of defence to his enemies, and Judaea, with the 
countries that belonged to Ccelesyria, remained in 
this unguarded condition until, in the battle at Ipsus, 
in Asia Minor (301), fought against the united armies 
of Ptolemy, Lysimachus, Cassander, and Seleucus, 


Antigonus lost at one blow both his glory and his life. 
The four generals divided the kingdom among 
themselves. Ptolemy received Egypt and the adjoin- 
ing lands, and the greater part of Asia fell to Seleu- 
cus. Thus Judaea became a portion of the Ptole- 
maean or Lagidian kingdom, and its fate for a time 
was linked to that of the latter. The condition of the 
Judaeans, however, underwent no material change. 
The tribute they had been obliged formerly to pay to 
the Persian monarch was now demanded by the 
Egypto-Macedonian court. The freedom and in- 
dependence of their movements and actions were not 
more restricted than they had hitherto been ; on the 
contrary, their situation might be considered rather 
improved than otherwise. 

In Judaea, the high-priest, who was answerable for 
the payment of taxes, was considered as the politi- 
cal chief, and was looked upon as a sacerdotal prince. 
Ptolemy I. was endowed with a gentle nature, and 
inclined to benefit his subjects. He had neither 
desire nor motive to oppress the Judaeans. Alexan- 
dria, the seaport city founded by Alexander, and con- 
sidered as the capital of his kingdom by the first 
Egypto-Macedonian monarch, acquired a large popu- 
lation, and it could only be a source of satisfac- 
tion to him to see Judaeans from the neighbouring 
country establishing themselves there. Under Alex- 
ander, many Judaeans had settled in that city, and, as 
this far-seeing hero had given equal rights of Macedo- 
nian citizenship to all comers, the first Judaean colony 
in Alexandria enjoyed perfect equality with the other 
inhabitants, and led a peaceful existence in the new 
land. A great number of Judaeans took up their 
abode there during the disturbed state of their coun- 
try, caused by the wars of Antigonus; they also 
received from Ptolemy protection and the enjoyment 
of equal laws and rights. And thus arose an Egyp- 
to-Judaean community, which was destined to fulfil 
a peculiar mission. In other places also Judaean 


colonies were formed. Assured of the good will of 
the Judseans, Ptolemy distributed them in various 
Egyptian cities and in Cyrene. 

Seleucus, the founder of the Seleucidaean king- 
dom, the centre of which was situated in Persia, had 
in addition become possessed of the northern part of 
Syria, where he founded a new city, Antioch, which 
became his capital. In order to people this city, as 
well as other newly-built towns, he was obliged to 
bring inhabitants into them, and among these partly 
forced and partly willing settlers were many Judse- 
ans, to whom Seleucus gave the full rights of Mace- 
donian citizenship. And, as Judsean colonies arose 
in the Grseco-Macedonian countries, so also Greek 
colonies were formed upon Judsean ground. Along 
the Mediterranean coast new seaports were built, or 
old ones enlarged and embellished, and to these 
Grecian names were given. 



Condition of the Judseans under the Ptolemies Simon effects Im- 
provements His Praises are sung by Sirach His Doctrines 
-TheChasidim and the Nazarites Simon's Children Onias II. 
and the Revolt against Egypt Joseph, son of Tobias His 
Embassy to Alexandria He is appointed Tax-collector War 
between Antiochus the Great and Egypt Defeat of Antiochus 
Spread of Greek Manners in Judasa Hyrcanus The Song of 
Songs Simon II. Scopas despoils Jerusalem The Contest 
between Antiochus and Rome Continued Hellenisation of the 
Judaeans The Chasidim and the Hellenists Jose ben Joezer 
and Jose ben Johanan Onias III. and Simon Heliodorus 
Sirach's Book of Proverbs against the Errors of his Time. 

300175 B. c. E. 

FOR more than a century after the death of Nehe- 
miah, the inner life of the Judsean nation might have 
been likened to that of a caterpillar weaving the 
threads which enshroud it from the juices of its own 
body, while the world knew it as a martyr, bearing 
insult and humiliation alike in silence. During 
that period it had not produced any one man, who, 
by reason of his own strong individuality, had 
been able to bring into play the reserve force of 
the nation ; no one had arisen capable of pointing 
the way and arousing enthusiasm. The stimulus 
for development and improvement had always come 
from without, from the principal men of Persia or 
Babylonia. But now the people, in consequence of 
new political circumstances, were separated from 
their co-religionists of those lands. The Judseans of 
the Euphrates and the Tigris could no longer carry 
on active intercourse with their brethren in the mother- 
country. For the reigning dynasties, the Seleucida:; 
and the Ptolemies, looked upon each other with sus- 

CH. xxi. SIMON THE JUST. 421 

picion, and frequent visits of the Judaeans from the 
provinces of the Seleucidse to the Judseans of Jeru- 
salem, would have been regarded with disfavour 
in Alexandria. Had the nation not been able to 
rally in its own country without extraneous help, it 
would have been lost ; a people which cannot exist or 
improve of itself must sooner or later fall into insig- 
nificance. But the right man arose at the right time. 
He saved the Judaean community from its fall. This 
man was Simon the Just (about 300-270). In an 
age deficient in great men, he appears like a lofty 
and luxuriant tree in the midst of a barren country. 
Legendary lore has seized upon his name, and has 
added the marvellous to the historical. It is always a 
favourable testimony to an historical personage, 
and to the influence he wields over a large circle, 
when romance proclaims his praise. Authentic his 
tory does not tell us much of Simon I., still the 
few characteristics preserved to us portray him 
as a man of great distinction. He was, moreover, 
the one high-priest of the house of Joshua ben 
Jozedek, of whom there is anything laudatory to 
be related, and the one to restore the priesthood to 
honour. "He cared for his people to save it from 
falling." He rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, which 
had been demolished by Ptolemy I., and he repaired 
the ravages of two centuries upon the Temple. He 
also carried out various measures for the safety and 
improvement of the capital. The supply of water 
from the several springs in the neighbourhood of 
Jerusalem is insufficient for ordinary purposes in dry 
seasons. The Temple, too, required water in copious 
quantities. To meet these requirements, Simon 
caused a large reservoir to be excavated below 
the Temple, which was fed by a subterranean 
canal, and brought a constant supply of fresh 
water from the springs of Etam. Thus there was no 
fear of drought, even in case of a siege. The poet, 
Joshua (Jesus) Sirach, who lived at a later date, 
gives us an enthusiastic description of Simon : 


" How was he distinguished in the midst of the people in his coming 
out of the Sanctuary ! He was as the morning star in the midst of 
a cloud, and as the full moon in the vernal season. 

" As the sun shining upon the temple of the Most High, and as the 
rainbow giving light in the bright clouds. 

" When he put on the robe of honour, and was clothed with the 
garments of glory .... compassed with his brethren roundabout, 
like palms around a cedar of Lebanon." (EccLUS. 1. 5-12.,) 

Not only was Simon the Just recognised in his 
office of high-priest as head of the community and 
of the Supreme Council, but he was also the chief 
teacher in the house of learning. He inculcated 
this maxim upon his disciples : " The world (i. e., the 
Judsean community) rests on three things, on the Law, 
on Divine Service (in the Temple), and on Charity" 
(Aboth i. 2). One may also ascribe to this remark- 
able man some share in the following saying of one 
of his most distinguished pupils, Antigonus of 
Soho, "Be not like those slaves, who serve their 
master for their daily rations, but be rather like 
the servants who faithfully serve their master without 
expectation of reward." Although Simon the Just 
attached great importance to the sacrificial rites, 
still he disliked the excessive ceremonialism towards 
which his generation was tending, nor did he conceal 
his disapprobation. There were amongst the nation, 
some over-pious people who took the vow of the 
Nazarite to refrain from wine for a given time ; they 
called themselves, or were called, the strictly pious, 
Chasidim. When the term of their vows had expired, 
they cut off their hair and went through all the cere- 
monies. Perhaps the excesses of the Greeks and 
their Jewish followers, their numerous feasts and 
orgies induced them to impose upon themselves this 
Nazaritic abstention with its attendant rites. It is 
certain that as the number of pleasure-seeking imi- 
tators of Greek habits increased in Judaea, so did also 
that of the Chasidim. But Simon the Just was not 
pleased with this exaggerated zeal, and took no part 
in the sacrifices of the Nazarites. 


Posterity has formed so exalted an opinion of 
Simon's character, that it designated his death as the 
end of an historical period of divine grace. In fact, 
sad and terrible events, brought about by his own 
descendants, and causing fresh trials to the Judse- 
ans, followed upon his death. Simon the Just left 
two children, a young son named Onias and a daugh- 
ter. The latter was married to Tobiah, a somewhat 
distinguished man of priestly descent. Onias being 
too young toojfiiiata as-j^igh Priest, a relative, 
named Msfiasseh, represented him during his mi- 
nority. Ttos rule of Onias II. became a turning-point 
in the histow of the Judseans. The constant war- 
fare carried on for years between the rival houses of 
thq Seleucidaex ani-tfij Ptolemies affected the fate of 

When at/fasV a treatV of peace was concluded (in 
240)1 Cpeflesyrik and Judaea remained with Egypt, 
but *lfee fourth! king of\the Seleucidae, Antiochus 
Callinicos, instigated thesfe provinces to revolt, and 
seems to haveAwon oven. Onias II. to side with 
him. Onias refused to pay me annual tax of twenty 
talents to the Ptolemies. Although the sum was 

* ^j 

small, the/payment was looked upon as a mark 
of <3ubprfssion, and its refusal gave great offence 
at me Egyptian court. Ptolemy II., after vainly de- 
manding the tribute money, threatened to divide the 
province amongst various foreign colonists. He 
despatched one of his own favourites, Athenion, as 
special envoy to Jerusalem. The Judseans in alarm 
and despair entreated Onias to submit, but he re- 
sisted their prayers. When matters had come to 
this crisis, there suddenly appeared upon the scene 
a man, Joseph by name, of extraordinary strength of 
will and purpose. He was the nephew of Onias, 
and son of the Tobiah who had married the daughter 


of Simon the Just. Fascinating in his manners, 
clever, cunning, and unscrupulous, the son of Tobiah 
seemed born to govern. Unfortunately for himself, 


Onias, the high-priest and ruler of the State, stood 
in his path. But now was the moment, as he thought, 
to remove the obstacle. As soon as Joseph was 
told of the arrival of the Ptolemaic envoy in Jerusa- 
lem, and of his threatening message, he hastened 
from his birth-place to that city, loaded his uncle 
Onias with reproaches for having led his people into 
danger, and finding the high-priest determined in 
his resistance, he offered to go himself to Alexandria, 
there to commence negotiations with the king of 
Egypt. As soon as Onias had empowered him to 
do so, Joseph assembled the people in the court of 
the Temple, soothed their excited feelings, and 
made them understand that they were to place 
entire confidence in his ability to avert the danger 
that threatened them. The whole assembly offered 
him their thanks, and made him leader of the 
people (about 230). From that moment, Joseph 
displayed so much decision that it \vas evident 
a plan had long been ripening in his brain. 
He was well aware of the weakness of the Greeks, 
and knew that they were not indifferent to flat- 
tery and to the luxuries of the table. So he pre- 
pared tempting- banquets for Athenion, fascinating 
I , i . , & n r . . , . , & 

mm by his charm ot manner, making him costly 

presents, and assuring him that he might return to 
Egypt, secure of the tribute money, which he 
promised should be paid to the king. As soon as 
the envoy had left Jerusalem, Joseph entered into 
negotiations with some Samaritan friends, or money- 
lenders, to obtain a loan for his necessary expenses. 
In order to appear with dignity at the Egyptian 
court, he required splendid apparel, brilliant equip- 
ages, and money to defray the cost of his entertain- 
ments. Joseph had no means of his own, and in all 
Judaea there was no one who could advance him 
large sums of money. The people, at that time, sup- 
porting themselves by agriculture, and not being 
engaged in commerce, had had no opportunity of 
amassing wealth. 


Furnished with the means of making a great dis- 
play at court, Joseph hurried to Alexandria, where 
the envoy Athenion had already prepared a favour- 
able reception for him. Ptolemy Euergetes was 
anxiously expecting him, and was not disappointed 
when he arrived. He was enchanted with Joseph's 
bearing and address, and invited him to be his guest 
at the royal table. The envoys from the Palestinean 
and Phoenician cities, who formerly had derided his 
simple appearance, now remarked with envy upon 
his presence at court. He soon gave them occasion 
not only to envy but also to hate him. For by a 
crafty stroke, he managed to obtain a position of 
great trust, that of head tax-gatherer of Coelesyria 
and Phoenicia. The king gave him a force of two 
thousand soldiers, who were, if necessary, to lend 
their aid in the fulfilment of his duties, and Joseph 
became in reality the governor of all the districts 
that went by the name of Palestine. He was re- 
spected and feared as a favourite of the king, and 
he therefore did not hesitate to use extreme severity 
in levying taxes. In the cities of Gaza and Beth-Shean 
(Scythopolis), the Greek inhabitants ventured to load 
him with insults, and to offer resistance. In return 
he beheaded the noblest and richest of the citizens, 
and confiscated their possessions for the Egyptian 
crown. For twenty-two years, Joseph held the post 
of satrap, and spent that time in amassing extraor- 
dinary wealth and attaining great power. 

After the death of Euergetes (223), his successor, 
Ptolemy VI., Philopator (222-206), retained him in 
office. He continued to act in the same heartless 
way, causing the following remark to be made in the 
presence of Philopator : " Joseph is stripping the 
flesh from Syria, and is leaving only the bones." 

At one time, his lucky star seemed to wane ; 
for the Seleucidaean king, Antiochus, called by his 
flatterers The Great (223-187), attempted to wrest 
the province of Coelesyria from Egypt (218). The 


commencement of the attack augured success. The 
Egyptian commanders were treacherous, they went 
over to the enemy, and betrayed the garrisons into 
their hands. Judaea and Jerusalem, under the con- 
trol of Joseph, remained true to Egypt. But how 
long would they be able to resist an attack of the 
Seleucidaean army? And, if such an attack was 
made, which side should Joseph take ? He must 
have lived through that time in the most painful 
anxiety. At last the decisive hour struck. In the 
spring of 217, Antiochus appeared on the sea-coast 
near Gaza. He was at the head of a large army, 
composed of various nationalities. His route lay 
to the south, towards Egypt. Meanwhile, Philopa- 
tor had roused himself from his life of ease and self- 
indulgence, and was advancing to Raphia to meet 
his enemy. Antiochus, over-confident of success, 
sustained a severe defeat, and was obliged to return 
to Antioch, and give up the possession of Ccelesyria. 
All the cities and communities that had been under 
his rule outbade one another in flattery and adu- 
lation of the conqueror, Philopator. Joseph re- 
mained in his position of trust, and continued to be 
the favourite of the Egyptian king. Through him, 
and through his connection with the court life of 
Philopator, a complete change had taken place in 
the Judaean nation, hardly visible indeed in the prov- 
inces, but most striking in the capital. 

By means of the immense riches that Joseph had 
accumulated, a veritable shower of gold fell upon the 
country; "he raised the people out of poverty 
and needy circumstances into ease and comfort." 
In order to collect the taxes of so many different 
towns, he was obliged to have responsible agents, 
and he preferred choosing them from amongst his 
own people. These agents enriched themselves in 
their own way, and bore themselves proudly. The 
consideration which Joseph enjoyed at the Egyptian 
court, his quickly-gained wealth, and the troop of 


soldiers always at his command, by whose help he 
held in check the people of various nationalities in 
Palestine, the remnant of the Philistines, the Phcenu 
cians, Idumaeans, and even the Greco-Macedonian 
colonists all this had the effect not only of lending 
him and his surroundings a certain air of self-impor- 
tance, but also of raising the people in general from 
the abject, submissive position they had occupied 
towards the neighbouring- nations. The horizon of 
the Judaeans, particularly of those who lived in Jeru- 
salem, widened as they came into contact with the 
Greeks. Their taste became more refined, their dwell- 
ings more beautiful, and they began to introduce the 
art of painting. The Judaeans of Alexandria, who 
had been for a century under Greek influence, and 
had, to a certain extent, become Hellenised, now 
brought their influence to bear upon their fellow- 
countrymen, but the simplicity of the Judsean habits 
and customs suffered in consequence. 

A shower of gold not only fails to have a fructify- 
ing effect, it often causes desolation and ruin ; and 
so it was in this case. The rich upstarts lost their 
balance ; they attached undue importance to the pos- 
session of riches, and preferred money-making to 
every other occupation, but the most unfortunate 
feature was that they became blind admirers of the 
Greeks, whose extravagant habits and frivolous 


customs they soon acquired, to the deterioration 
of their own national virtues. The Greeks loved 
conviviality, gave public banquets, and indulged in 
most unruly merrymaking at their repasts. The 
Judaeans imported the custom of dining in com- 
pany, reclining on couches whilst they ate and drank, 
and indulging in wine, music, and song at their enter- 
tainments. All this was innocent enough ; but unfor- 
tunately it led to more than merely making life 
brighter. Greek frivolity and extravagance drew 
their imitators rapidly into a vortex of dissipation. 
Joseph was constantly at the court of Ptolemy 


Philopator, when business took him to Alexandria. 
This court was a hot-bed of depravity. The days were 
spent in revelry, and the nights in shameless de- 
bauchery ; the prevailing depravity led astray both 
the people and the army. 

Philopator entertained the absurd belief that his 
ancestors were descended from the God of Wine, 
Dionysus (Bacchus); and he considered himself 
obliged to introduce bacchanalian revelries into his 
kingdom. Any one wishing to ingratiate himself 
with the king and his boon companions was forced 
to belong to the fraternity of Dionysus. Whenever 
Joseph was called to Alexandria, he enjoyed the 
doubtful honour of being invited to the king's orgies, 
and of being received by the followers of the God of 
Wine. It was at such a feast that he contracted a 
violent passion for one of those dissolute dancing- 
women who never failed to be present upon these 

Jerusalem did not long remain untainted by this 
social impurity. Joseph, from friendship, let us 
suppose, for his royal patron, introduced Dionysian 
festivals into Judaea. At the turning-point of the 
year, when winter makes way for spring, when the 
vine bursts into blossom, and the wine in the bar- 
rels ferments a second time, then the Greeks held 
their great festival in honour of Dionysus: "the 
festival of the barrel-openings." Two days were 
devoted to intoxicating orgies, when friends in- 
terchanged pitchers of wine as presents. He who 
drank most was most honoured. This festival of the 
" barrel-opening" was now to be celebrated in much 
the same way in Judaea. But, in order to clothe 
this festival in a Judaean garb, the rich made it an 
occasion for dispensing alms to the poor. Revelry 
is always the attendant of excessive indulgence in 
wine. The rich Judaeans soon copied the Greek 
customs, and, callous to the promptings of shame 
and honour, they introduced singers, dancers, and 


dissolute women at these festivals. A poetical writer 
raises a warning voice against the growing unchastity 
of the age: 

"Meet not with an harlot, lest thou fall into her snares. Use not 
much the company of the songstress, lest thou be taken with her 

attempts Give not thy soul unto harlots, that thou lose not 

thine inheritance." (ECCLUS. ix. 3, seq.) 

The love of art and beauty which Joseph intro- 
duced into Judaea did not compensate for this loss of 
chastity and morality. Even earnest men, under 
Greek influence, began to cast doubts upon their 
old traditional belief. They questioned whether the 
teachings of Judaism were correct and true through- 
out, whether God really demanded from man the 
denial of all self-gratification, and whether the Deity 
in any way concerned itself about the great universe 
and the small world of mankind. 

The teachings of Epicurus, inculcating the impo- 
tence of the gods, and recommending self-indul- 
gence to man, were well received by the degenerate 
Grseco-Macedonians, and particularly by the upper 
circles of the Alexandrians. It was from that city that 
the poison spread to Judsea. In Jerusalem also 
doubters arose, who disregarded the teachings of 
Judaism. These doubts might have led to increased 
mental activity, had not discord been added to the 
corruption of manners. Feelings of jealousy sprang 
up between the seven sons of Joseph by his first mar- 
riage, and the youngest, Hyrcanus, the son of his 
second wife. The latter was distinguished in youth 
by his quick intellect, his ability, and his craftiness, 
characteristics that endeared him to his father. In 
the year 210, a son was born to the king Philo- 
pator. The different representatives of the cities of 
Ccelesyria were anxious to express, by presents and 
congratulations, their devotion to the Egyptian king. 
Joseph felt that he ought not to absent himself upon 
such an occasion. But his growing infirmities not 


allowing him to undertake such a journey, he asked 
one of his sons to represent him. Hyrcanus was 
the only one who felt equal to the task, and his 
brothers unanimously requested their father to accept 
his services. At the same time they suggested to 
their friends in Alexandria to put him out of the way. 
But Joseph's young son instantly gained favour at 
court. His extravagant gifts upon the great day of 
public congratulation one hundred handsome slaves 
to the king, and one hundred beautiful female slaves 
to the queen, in the hands of each a gift of a talent 
threw the presents of all others into the shade. His 
ready wit and adroit tongue soon made him a 
favoured guest at Philopator's table. He returned 
to Jerusalem filled with pride. But his perfidious 
brothers were lying in wait for him on the road, and 
determined to accomplish what the Alexandrians had 
failed to do. Hyrcanus and his companions de- 
fended themselves, and in the combat which ensued 
killed two of his brothers. His father received him 
sternly on account of his extravagance in Egypt, being 
perhaps also jealous of his extraordinary popularity. 
Hyrcanus dared not remain in Jerusalem, and prob- 
ably returned to Alexandria. 

Thus far, this discord was confined only to the family 
of Joseph, and seemed not to affect the people at 
large or the inhabitants of Jerusalem. No one could 
have imagined that the violent dissensions among 
the members of that house, and its Greek proclivi- 
ties, would end by bringing misery upon the whole 
nation. The present seemed bright and sunny ; 
prosperity w r as widespread in the land, and offered 
the means for beautifying life. The neighbouring 
peoples acknowledged the supremacy of the Judaean 
governor, and none ventured to attack the nation, 
or to treat it with contempt. Judaea had not known 
so peaceful a state of things since the age of Ne- 

It was, therefore, not unnatural that a poem in the 


form of a love song should have appeared at that 
time, shedding a rosy flush over the age, and reflect- 
ing happy and joyous days. 

A cloudless sky, green meadows, fragrant flowers, 
and, above all things, careless light-heartedness are 
mirrored in it, as though there were no more serious 
occupation in life than to wander over hills of myrrh, 
to repose among lilies, to whisper words of love, and 
to revel in the ecstasy of the moment. In this period 
of calm which preceded the storm, the " Song of 
Songs" (Shir-ha-shirim) was written. It was the 
offspring of untroubled, joyous days. In it the 
Hebrew language proved its capability of expressing 
tenderness and depth of sentiment, exquisite dia- 
logue and picturesque poetry of nature. The author 
of this poem had seen the life of Greece, had felt the 
charm of its literature, and learned the cunning of its 
art. But beneath the veil of poetry he reprovingly 
pointed out the evils of the time. 

In contrast to the impure and unchaste love of the 
Greek world, our poet's ideal is a shepherdess, 
Shulamit, the beautiful daughter of Aminadab. She 
bears in her heart a deep, ardent, unquenchable love 
for a shepherd who pastures his flock among the 
lilies, and with and through this love, she remains 
pure and innocent. Her beauty is enhanced by her 
grace of movement, by her soft voice and gentle 
speech. As her eyes are like the dove's, so is her 
heart full of dove-like innocence. In the flowery 
language of the most exquisite poetry, the author 
of the Song of Songs denounces the debauchery 
of the times, the lewdness of the public dancers and 
singers, the voluptuousness of town life, and the 
enervating effects of riotous living. 

Joseph, the grandson of Simon the Just, died in 
the year 208, leaving his family torn by dissen- 
sion. His office was to be transferred to one of 
his sons; but Hyrcanus, the youngest, being the 
only one known at the Egyptian court, and a 


favourite of the king, the preference was no doubt 
given to him. This fired the hatred of his brothers. 
They assumed a hostile position towards him upon 
his arrival in Jerusalem, and as Hyrcanus had a large 
number of followers, civil war seemed imminent. 
The action of the high-priest, Simon II., who sided 
with the elder brothers, turned the scale, and Hyr- 
canus was again compelled to flee the city. If he 
intended pleading his cause in Alexandria, as he 
probably did, he was disappointed, for he could 
obtain no hearing at the Egyptian court, as his patron 
Philopator had just died (206), and Egypt was a 
prey to disorder. 

Two ambitious kings, tempted by the weakness of 
the house of Ptolemy, seized upon Egypt and her 
provinces, and divided them. These were Antiochus 
the Great, of Syria, and Philip of Macedon. 

Joseph's elder sons, or, as they were generally 
called, the Tobiades, out of hatred to their younger 
brother, Hyrcanus, determined to side with Anti- 
ochus against Egypt. They raised a Seleucidsean 
party. They are described as scoffers and reprobates, 
and, as matters went on, they showed themselves to 
be unprincipled men, who sacrificed their country's 
weal to their thirst for revenge and the gratification 
of their lusts. They opened the gates of Jerusalem to 
the Syrian king, and did homage to him. The adhe- 
rents of the Ptolemies and of Hyrcanus yielded or 
were crushed. 

Thus Judaea came under the rule of the Seleu- 
cidsean kings (203-202). But an yEtolian comman- 
der of hired troops, Scopas, undertook to oppose the 
Syrian conqueror. He soon overran the Jordanic 
and trans-Jordanic territories, causing terror amongst 
the Tobiades and their followers. Desperately but 
in vain they struggled against their impending doom. 
Scopas took Jerusalem by storm, laid waste the city 
and the Temple, and put to the sword those who were 
pointed out as hostile to him. Numbers sought safety 
in flight. 


In order to secure the allegiance of the conquered 
people, Scopas left a contingent in the fortress of 
Baris or Acra. But the re-conquest of Judaea and 
Ccelesyria for the son of Ptolemy, the child Epiphanes, 
was not to be lasting. The Syrians now re-appeared 
on the scene. In the beautiful valley at the foot of 
Mount Herrnon, near the mountain city of Panion, at 
the source of the Jordan, a terrible battle was fought, 
in which Scopas and his troops were entirely routed. 
Judaea once again became a prey to the horrors of 
war and internal dissensions; she resembled a storm- 
tossed ship, flung violently from side to side. Both 
parties inflicted unsparing blows on her. 

Antiochus succeeded in re-conquering the greater 
part of the land, and then marched upon Jerusalem. 
The people, headed by the Synhedrin and the 
priests, came out to meet him, bringing provisions 
for his troops and elephants. But the yfeolian con- 
tingent still held the fortress of Acra. Antiochus or 
one of his commanders, with the help of the Judse- 
ans, undertook the siege of the fortress. The Seleu- 
cidaean king, it appears, greatly valued the friend- 
ship of the Judaeans, for he gave orders to rebuild 
their ruined city and repair their Temple. They 
were treated with much consideration, and were 
allowed to govern themselves according to their own 
laws. None but Judaeans had the right of entering 
the Temple; no impurities were suffered to pollute 
it, and no unclean animals were to be bred in Jeru- 

Antiochus remained in undisputed possession of 
Ccelesyria, and therefore also of Judaea. But he cast 
a greedy eye upon Egypt and her neighbouring 
provinces, of whose conquest, since they were under 
the rule of a boy-king, he felt assured. But the Ro- 
mans, free for action since the downfall of Carthage, 
formed a stumbling-block to his progress. Com- 
pelled to abandon his plans on Egypt, Antiochus 
conceived the idea of making war upon the Romans, 


and after having conquered them, of seizing upon 
Asia Minor and Greece and also Egypt. But his fool- 
hardiness and over-confidence led to his humilia- 
tion. He suffered so crushing a defeat at the hands 
of the Romans (190), that he was obliged to give up 
his conquests in Greece and in a part of Asia Minor, 
surrender the whole of his fleet, and pay 15,000 
talents annually, for twelve years, to the victor. He 
was constrained to send to Rome as hostage his 
son, Antiochus Epiphanes, who was destined to leave 
a bloody mark upon the annals of Judsean history. 
Severe was the penalty that Antiochus paid for hav- 
ing over-estimated the strength of the Seleucidaeans. 
In order to be able to pay the heavy indemnity, the 
Syrian kings robbed temples; this sacrilege made 
them odious, and stirred up the hatred of the most 
patient nationalities. Antiochus, surnamed the Great, 
met his death through one of these acts of rapine 

1 he sacrileges continued by his son became the 
cause of the rise to new strength of the Judaean na- 
tion, as well as of the humiliation and decadence of 
the Seleucidsean kingdom. 

The disintegration of the Judcean community, 
which began under Joseph's administration, increased 
rapidly during the constant struggle between the 
Seleucidaeans and the Ptolemies for the possession 
of Ccelesyria. The leaders of the two parties were 
not particular as to the means they employed to 
forward their own cause, or to injure that of their 
antagonists. The friends of the Seleucidaeans were 
above all things determined to find allies amongst the 
foreign nationalities in and around Judaea. The 
Greeks living in Palestinean places, as well as the 
native Gentiles, hated the Judseans, on account of 
the humiliations they had suffered at the hands of 
the tax-collector Joseph. There were other antago- 
nistic races besides ; the old names of the enemies 
of the Judaeans still existed, recalling the warlike 


days of the Judges and of David's reign. The 
Idumaeans and the Philistines were in possession of 
Judaean territory, and the former occupied even the 
ancient city of Hebron. Both hated the Judaeans, 
and made them feel this hatred upon every occasion, 
whilst in the north the Samaritans did the same. 

The Judaean settlers in the provinces of the Seleu- 
cidsean kingdom looked up to the Graeco-Macedonian 
rulers, commanders and officers for protection from 
their numerous foes. But in order to curry favour 
with the Greeks, it was necessary to endeavour to 
become like them in manners, customs and observ- 
ances. As to Jerusalem, those who had Hellenised 
themselves in outward appearance, determined upon 
educating the Judaean youth according to the Greek 
model. Thus they established races and contests in 
wrestling. The richest and most distinguished among 
the Judaeans belonged to this Greek faction, amongst 
others, Jesus (Joshua), the son of the high-priest, who 
called himself Jason, and who was followed by many 
Aaronides. The party was led by the Tobiades, or 
sons and grandsons of Joseph the tax-collector. But 
as Jewish law and custom were sternly opposed to 
such innovations, and held in especial abhorrence 
Greek shamelessness, these factions determined to 
abolish the faith of the fathers, that the people might 
be Hellenised without let or hindrance. 

Complete incorporation with the pagan Greeks 
was their aim. Of what use was the fence erected 
by Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Synhedrin round Juda- 
ism? The Hellenists pulled down the fence, and 
showed a desire to fell the primeval trees of the 
forest too. 

As has repeatedly occurred in the history of think- 
ing nations, lack of moderation on the one side 
brought forth exaggeration on the other. Those Ju- 
daeans who saw with pain and rage the attempts of 
the Hellenists grouped themselves into a party which 
clung desperately to the Law and the customs of 


their fathers, and cherished them as the apple of 
their eye. They were " the community of the pious," 
or Chasidim, a development of the Nazarites. Every 
religious custom was to them of inviolable sanctity. 
A more complete contrast than was presented by 
these two parties can hardly be imagined. They 
understood each other as little as if they had not 
been sons of the same tribe, people of the same 
nation. That which was the dearest wish of the 
Hellenists, the Chasidim condemned as a fearful sin ; 
they called its authors " breakers of the Law," " tres- 
passers of the Covenant." Again, what was dear and 
sacred to the Chasidim, the Hellenists looked upon 
as folly, and denounced as a hindrance to the welfare 
and stability of the community. Amongst the Cha- 
sidim there were two noted teachers of the Law, Jose, 
the son of Joezer, of the town of Zereda, and Jose, 
the son of Johanan of Jerusalem, each of them the 
founder of a school. The one laid more stress upon 
the theoretical study of the Law, the other, upon the 
execution of its commands. Jose of Zereda taught 
his disciples: " Let your house be a place of assem- 
bly for the wise men; allow yourself to be covered 
with the dust of their feet ; drink in their words 
greedily." Jose of Jerusalem, on the other hand, 
taught, " Let the door of your house be opened wide ; 
let the poor be your guests, and do not converse with 

Between the two widely opposed parties, the Hel- 
lenists and the Chasidim or Assidseans, the people 
took a middle course. They certainly took delight in 
the luxuries and refinements of life introduced by 
the Greeks, and did not care to have their pleasures 
narrowed by the severe Chasidim ; at the same time 
they disapproved of the excesses of the Hellenists ; 
they refused to break their connection with the past, 
or to have it obliterated through innovations. But 
the passionate warfare that existed between Hellen- 
ists and Chasidim, menacing with extinction one of 

CH. xxi. THE CHASIDIM. 437 

the two parties, obliged the moderates to take sides 
with one or the other of them. 

The pious, or patriots, were still supreme in their 
position of command in the community. At their 
head was Onias III., high-priest, son of Simon II. He 
is described as a man of excellent character. Though 
gentle by nature, he was an enemy to wrongdoing, 
zealous for the Law, a strong advocate of piety, and 
uncompromisingly opposed to Hellenistic practices. 
The Hellenists accordingly hated him fiercely. His 
principal enemies, besides the Tobiades, were three 
brothers, of a. distinguished Benjamite family, who 
vied with each other in insolence Simon, Onias 
called Menelaus, and Lysimachus. They hated the 
high-priest not only on account of his constant oppo- 
sition to their innovations, but also on account of his 
alliance with Hyrcanus, who was still suffering from 
the persecutions of his brothers and their followers. 

Hyrcanus was in great favour at the Egyptian court, 
and Ptolemy V. had given him the control over some 
trans-Jordanic territory. Armed troops were prob- 
ably at his disposal to help him in the discharge of 
his duties. The Judaeans who colonised the province 
were probably loyal to him, or were employed by 
him. By their aid he was able to levy contributions 
from the Arabs, or Nabataeans, of the provinces of 
Hesbon and Medaba, as ruthlessly as his father 
Joseph had once done in Ccelesyria. In this way he 
accumulated vast wealth. He erected a wonderful 
citadel of white marble, upon a rock near Hesbon, 
to all intents and purposes a fortress, but of surpass- 
ing beauty. He called this magnificent palace Ty- 
rus; he surrounded it with a wide moat of great 
depth, and constructed the gates of the outer wall 
of such narrow dimensions that they admitted 
only one person at a time. Hyrcanus spent several 
years, probably from 181 to 175, in this mountain 
retreat. The surplus of the wealth accumulated by 
Hyrcanus was sent from time to time, for safe-keep- 


ing, to the Temple in Jerusalem, which enjoyed the 
privilege of inviolability. 

Simon, the Benjamite, held some kind of an office 
in the Temple, whereby he came into conflict with the 
high-priest. Onias banished Simon from Jerusalem, 
and in order to stem the ever-growing anarchy in the 
city, he passed a similar sentence of exile upon the 
Tobiades. But by doing this he only added fresh 
fuel to the flames. Simon devised a diabolical scheme 
for wreaking vengeance upon his enemy. He re- 
paired to the military commander of Ccelesyria and 
Phoenicia, Apollonius, son of Thraseius, and betrayed 
to him the fact that great treasures, not belonging 
to the Sanctuary, and consequently royal property, 
were hidden in the Temple of Jerusalem. Apollonius 
lost no time in giving the king, Seleucus II. (187-1 75), 
information on this subject. Seleucus thereupon 
sent his treasurer Heliodorus to Jerusalem with or- 
ders to confiscate the treasures concealed in the 
Temple. Onias naturally resisted this unjust de- 
mand. Heliodorus then showed his royal war- 
rant, and prepared to force his way into the Sanc- 
tuary. Great was the consternation in Jerusalem 
at the thought of a heathen's entering the Temple 
and robbing it of its treasures. However, by some 
means or other, this sacrilege was not perpetrated. 
We are not told what means were employed for pre- 
venting it, but tradition, born of pious reverence for 
the Temple of God, has given the colouring of the 
miraculous to the whole proceeding. 

But Simon could not desist from his attempts to 
bring about the downfall of the hated high-priest. 
He even had recourse to the aid of hired assassins. 
Fortunately, he was unsuccessful; but Onias was 
now thoroughly alarmed. He determined to lay the 
real state of affairs before King Seleucus, with an 
account of the conflicting parties and of the motives 
that induced Simon and the Tobiades to conspire 
against him, imploring the king's protection and aid. 


He appointed his brother Joshua, or Jason, as his 
delegate, and repaired to Antioch. During his ab- 
sence the Hellenists, eager to obtain the office of 
high-priest for one of their own party, redoubled 
their intrigues. A high-priest from among their own 
number would not only be master of the treasures in 
the Temple, but leader of the nation. He could assist 
them in the introduction of Greek customs, and, by 
reason of his spiritual office, add weight to the efforts 
of the Hellenists, who had become so demoralised 
that they held nothing sacred. 

These secret devices soon became known, and 
roused the indignation of many who clung to the 
old customs and traditionary teachings. Amongst 
these was a poet and writer of proverbs, Jesus Sirach 
by name, the son of Eleazar (200-176). He was 
prompted by the wrongdoing he witnessed in Jeru- 
salem to write a book of pithy sayings, applicable 
to the evils of the age, which might prove salutary 
to its Judsean readers. He was a successor of the 
proverb-writers. He was familiar with the Law, 
the prophets, and other instructive and spiritual 
works, and he was a close reader of the older Book 
of Proverbs, imitating the style of that work, though 
without reaching its graceful simplicity. 

Sirach did not belong to the sterner Chasidim 
who refrained from all harmless pleasures, and who 
denounced others for enjoying them. On the con- 
trary, he was in favour of the social meal, enlivened 
by music and wine. To those who made a point of 
interfering with innocent pleasures, and whose dis- 
mal talk put an end to all gaiety, he addressed the 
following rebuke : 

" Speak, thou elder in council, for it becometh thee, but with sound 
judgment, and shew not forth wisdom out of time. As a signet of 
an emerald set in a work of gold, so is the melody of music with 
"pleasant wine." (ECCLUS. xxxii. 3, 4, 6.) 

There were some over-pious Judseans who con- 
demned the use of all medical skill and aid; they 


insisted that as all maladies were sent from God, He 
alone could cure them. Sirach explained in his pro- 
verbs that the skill of the physician and the virtue of 
medicines were also the gifts of God, created to serve 
the purpose of healing. 

But all his zeal was kindled at sight of the social 
and religious backsliding of his brethren, and their 
consequent humiliation in the eyes of the neighbour- 
ing peoples. The social depravity of his coreligionists 
grieved him more than their political oppression. Si- 
rach stung with the lash of sarcasm the arrogance, 
deceit and lust of the rich Hellenists, who worshipped 
Mammon. He also denounced lechery, warned them 
against the companionship of dancers, singers and 
painted women, and he painted in no flattering colours 
the portraits of the daughters of Israel. 

Sirach declared that the root of all this evil was 
the indifference of the Judaeans to their sacred Law. 
His aim was to reinstate it in the hearts of the 
people. He touched upon another subject, a burn- 
ing question of the day. Many in Jerusalem, par- 
ticularly among the upper circles, were anxious to 
substitute for the high-priest Onias one of their own 
party, even though he were not a descendant or 
Aaron. Was it necessary to restrict the priestly 
office to one family? This was the question pro- 
pounded by the ambitious. Sirach 's proverbs are 
directed against the possibility of a revolution in the 
sacred order. 

By various examples, taken from the history of the 
Judsean people, he endeavoured to show that obedi- 
ence to the Law and to established rule would entail 
happy consequences, but that disobedience must lead 
to fatal results. He gave a short account of illus- 
trious and notorious personages, dwelling upon their 
virtuous deeds or nefarious practices, as the case 
might be. He described the rise of the family of 
Korah against Aaron, their final destruction by fire, 
and the heightened glory of the high-priest. This 


was a hint to his co-religionists that the zealous Hel- 
lenists should not be allowed to provoke a repetition 
of Korah's punishment. He also dwelt upon the 
history of Phineas, Aaron's grandson, the third in 
glory, who was permitted to make atonement for 

He passed rapidly over the division of the two 
kingdoms and the depravity of the people, lingering 
upon the activity and energy of the prophets. He 
mentioned with loving recollection the names of 
Zerubbabel, the high-priest Joshua, and Nehemiah, 
in the days succeeding the Captivity. And at length 
he closed with a brilliant description of the high- 
priest, Simon the Just, of his good deeds and the 
majesty of his priesthood, hoping that this example 
of the ancestor of the family of the high-priest and 
of the Tobiades might instruct and warn the ambi- 
tious desecrators of the priestly diadem. But instead 
of the unity for which he prayed, at the end of his 
book, the dissensions increased, and the plots and 
wickedness of the Hellenists brought the Judaean 
nation to the brink of destruction. 



Antiochus Epiphanes His Character His Wars with Rome He 
appoints Jason to the High Priesthood Introduction of the 
Greek Games Jason sends Envoys to Tyre to take part in the 
Olympian Games Affairs in Jerusalem Antiochus invades 
Egypt Report of his Death in Jerusalem Antiochus attacks 
the City and defiles the Temple His Designs against Judaism 
His Second Invasion of Egypt The Persecution of the Judas - 
ans The Martyrs Mattathias and his five Sons Apelles 
appears in Modin The Chasidim Death of Mattathias and 
Appointment of Judas Maccabaeus as Leader His Virtues 
Battles against Apollonius and Heron Antiochus determines 
to exterminate the Judaean People Composition and Object of 
the Book of Daniel Victory of Judas over Lysias. 

175166 B. c. E. 

THERE now appeared on the scene a royal personage 
who seemed destined to increase the hopeless dis- 
orders in Judaea, and to bring- greater misery upon 
the House of Israel than it had ever known before. 
This man was Antiochus Epiphanes, whom history 
has justly branded. He belonged to a class of men 
who have a double nature. He was a mixture of 
malice and noble impulses; he was cunning and cal- 
culating, yet capricious, petty in great enterprises, 
and great in trivialities. His contemporaries even 
could not fathom his character, nor understand whether 
a naturally crippled intellect or simulation was the 
cause of the absurdities by which he made himself 
ridiculous in the eyes of the people. He seemed to covet 
the name of "Epimanes," or the Madman. His early 
training encouraged him to lead an irregular life. 
He resided for thirteen years at Rome, whither his 
father had sent him as hostage for the maintenance 
of peace and the payment of the costs of the war. 


Rome had just become the capital of the world. The 
Romans had conquered the Carthaginians, the Mace- 
donians and the Syrians, and the Eternal City was 
passing from the austere morality of the Catos to the 
wantonness of the Claudii. Debauchery and unnatural 
lust the immoral practices of the Greeks speedily 
took root there. But what Antiochus learnt princi- 
pally at Rome was contempt of men and their cher- 
ished customs; there also he acquired not only 
insolence, but a hardness of heart which knew no 
compassion, and the malice which sports with its vic- 
tim before it strangles it. 

Antiochus succeeded in obtaining permission to 
leave Rome, and to send his nephew Demetrius, son 
of the king Seleucus Philopator, as hostage in his 
place. He returned to Syria, probably with the 
intention of dethroning his brother, but his design 
had been anticipated by Heliodorus, one of the court 
magnates, who had murdered Seleucus (175), and 
taken possession of the kingdom. It may be ques- 
tioned whether Antiochus was not implicated in this 
deed ; he was at that time at Athens, on his way 
home. His father's enemy, Eumenes, king of Per- 
gamus, with his brother Attalus, put the murderer 
Heliodorus to flight, and proclaimed Antiochus king 
of Syria and Asia. Thus Antiochus attained to power 
by craft and usurpation; for Demetrius, now a 
hostage at Rome, was the rightful sovereign. The 
Romans favoured the usurper, for they hoped, by 
increasing the dissensions among the royal families, to 
bring about the fall of those kingdoms which still 
resisted their power. Antiochus, however, was de- 
termined to foil this stratagem of the Romans. A 
Judaean seer thus graphically describes his accession 
to the throne : 

" And in his place shall stand up a contemptible person to whom 
they had not given the honour of the kingdom ; but he shall come 
suddenly, and shall obtain the kingdom by flatteries. . . . And after 
the league made with him he shall work deceitfully; for he shall 
come up and shall become strong, with a small number of people. 


Suddenly shall he come even upon the fattest places of the province ; 
and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' 
fathers ; he shall scatter among them prey, and spoil, and substance." 
(DANIEL xi. 21-24.) 

It was in the execution of his designs to deceive 
the Romans that he introduced in Antioch the Roman 
gladiatorial combats, in which prisoners of war or 
slaves were made to fioht each other with arms until 


one succumbed or was killed. Antiochus had entirely 
banished from his soul the fear of any deity; "he 
neither reverenced the gods of his ancestors, nor any 
god whatever, for above all he magnified himself." 
The Judseans were now in the hands of this 
monster, who had a heart of stone, and scorned 
alike man and law, morality and religion. If 
peace had reigned in Judaea, the country might 
have escaped his notice, but the discord which the 
Hellenists had excited there directed his attention 
towards the Judaean people and their land. The 
Hellenist party themselves requested his interference 
in the internal affairs of Judaea, directing his notice to 
Hyrcanus, whom they hated, and who, residing in his 
castle near Hesbon, collected the taxes from the 
Arabian or Nabataean inhabitants of the land in the 
name of the king of Egypt. Hyrcanus, dreading an 
ignominious death, committed suicide, and Antiochus 
seized all his property. 

The Hellenists then carried out their long-cher- 
ished plan of divesting their other enemy, the high- 
priest Onias, of his dignity. The brother of the 
latter, called Jesus or Jason, promised Antiochus a 
large sum if he would transfer the high-priesthood to 
him ; and the needy king did not scruple to grant 
the request. Onias, who journeyed to Antioch, 
to bring charges against his enemies, was de- 
nounced as a partisan of the Ptolemies, and the 
accuser thus became the accused. The Hellenists, 
or rather the high-priest, next petitioned Antiochus 
that those Judaeans who were trained for the Greek 


combats should be registered as Antiochians or 
Macedonians, and as such be entitled to the privi- 
leges of full citizenship, and admitted to all public 
meetings and games of the Greeks. Games were 
serious occupations to the Greeks, not mere amuse- 
ments, but rather the aim and end of life. The 
Grecian settlers in Palestine and Phoenicia maintained 
the national tie with their brethren at home by intro- 
ducing the Olympian games, held every four years, in 
the land of the barbarians, and such of the latter as 
were allowed to take part in these games felt them- 
selves greatly honoured by their admission to the 
Greek nobility. 

By introducing gymnasia into Jerusalem, Jason and 
the Hellenists hoped to obtain the right of Greek 
citizenship for the Judseans, and thus to diminish the 
hatred and contempt from which they suffered. As 
soon as Antiochus had conceded the privilege for 
which the Hellenists had petitioned, Jason took great 
interest in superintending the exercises which were 
to be practised before the Judseans could take part 
in the Olympian games. The high-priest selected 
(174) a site for the games in the Birah or Acra 
(Acropolis), north-west of the Temple. It con> 
prised a gymnasium for youths and an ephebeion for 
boys. Greek masters were most probably hired to 
teach the Judsean men and youths their games, 
which consisted in racing, jumping, wrestling, in 
throwing discs, and boxing. It soon became evi- 
dent, however, that these games, which owed their 
origin to quite a different mode of life, were incom- 
patible with Judaism. According to Greek custom, 
the men who took part in these contests were naked. 
The Judsean youths who consented to compete were 
therefore compelled to overcome their feeling of 
shame and appear naked in sight of the Temple. 
Besides, in uncovering their bodies they could imme- 
diately be recognised as Judaeans. But were they to 
take part in the Olympian games, and expose 


themselves to the mockery of the Greek scoffers? 
Even this difficulty they evaded by undergoing a pain- 
ful operation, so as to disguise the fact that they were 
Judaeans. Youths soon crowded to the gymna- 
sium, and the young priests neglected their duties 
at the Temple to take part in the exercises of 
the palaestra and the stadium. The pious saw with 
terror this adoption of foreign customs, but they 
held their peace. Meanwhile even Jason's confede- 
rates were dissatisfied with his leaning to Greek 
manners, when it led to the denial of the fundamental 
truths of Judaism. When (June, 172) the Olympian 
games were celebrated at Tyre, at which sacrifices 
were offered up to the Greek god Hercules, the al- 
leged founder of these combats, Jason sent as ambas- 
sadors men who were practiced in these games, and 
entitled to take part in them. According to custom, 
they were entrusted with a money contribution to be 
devoted to sacrifices to Hercules. But the ambassa- 
dors, although Greek at heart, felt conscience-stricken 
at the manner in which this sum was to be employed ; 
it seemed to stamp them as idolaters, and to prove 
their belief in the divinity of a marble statue. They 
therefore accepted the commission on condition that 
the disposal of the money they took with them was to 
be left to their own discretion. The belief in Israel's 
God was too deeply rooted even in the hearts of 
those men who were partial to the Greek customs, 
and attached to the Hellenistic party to admit of this 
desecration. Jason's ambassadors gave the money 
as a contribution to the fleet which Antiochus was 
fitting out at Tyre. 

Meanwhile the dissensions in Jerusalem increased 
so greatly that pernicious consequences could not 
fail to follow. The Hellenists were devising in- 
trigues to overthrow Jason, and to have the office 
of high-priest placed under their own control. They 
were impelled to this either by feelings of ambition, 
or by the fear that the brother of Onias was too partial 


to Judaism, and not sufficiently energetic, to overthrow 
the patriarchal customs. One of their number, Onias 
Menelaus, an unscrupulous man, and a brother of that 
Simon who had denounced Onias, and revealed the 
existence of the treasures in the Temple, was to be 
made high-priest. Jason sent the annual contributions 
to the king through Menelaus, who promised to 
increase them by 300 talents, if he were made high- 
priest. He boasted of his great credit, which would 
enable him to further the king's cause more energet- 
ically than Jason. Antiochus did not scruple to trans- 
fer the dignity of the high-priest to the highest bidder 
(172-171). lie immediately sent Sostrates, one of 
his officers, with a troop of Cyprian soldiers, to 
Jerusalem, to subdue any opposition that might be 
made, and to watch over the punctual delivery of the 
promised sums. Sostrates placed the soldiers in the 
fortified Acra to keep down the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem, and proclaimed the dismissal of Jason 
according to the king's order. The latter was either 
banished or he escaped from Jerusalem, whence he 
crossed over the Jordan into the land of the Am- 
monites. This district was governed by a Nabatsean 
prince, named Aretas, by whom he was cordially re- 
ceived. This change only increased the disorders in 
Jerusalem; the greater part of the people were in- 
dignant that Menelaus, who was a Benjamite, and 
not of the family of the high-priests, and who besides 
was known to be opposed to the patriarchal customs, 
had been invested with that holy dignity. Even 
the admirers of Greek customs and the lovers of 
innovations condemned the selection of Menelaus. 

Both the followers of Jason and those who did 
not wish to break entirely with Judaism disapproved 
of his dismissal. But the malcontents were com- 
pelled to be silent, because they feared the presence 
of the Syrian officer and the Cyprian troops which 
he commanded; but great excitement prevailed in 
the minds of the people, and threatened to break 


forth at the earliest opportunity. Menelaus brought 
matters to a climax. He had promised the king 
more than he could give in payment for the dignity 
he had received. Antiochus was indignant, and 
summoned him to come and justify himself. Com- 
pelled to go to Antioch, he left the capital in charge 
of his brother Lysimachus, who was as unconscien- 
tious as himself, and took holy gifts out of the 
Temple, intending to sell them in order to make up 
the required sum. Not finding the king at home, 
he bribed his lieutenant Andronicus with part of the 
costly vessels. The worthy high-priest, Onias III., 
who still resided at Antioch, heard of this crime ; 
he also learnt that Menelaus had sold utensils from 
the Temple in Tyre and other Phoenician towns. 
Indignant at such behaviour, he accused Menelaus 
of robbing the Temple, a crime which was con- 
sidered heinous even amongst the Greeks. This 
accusation hastened the death of the deposed high- 
priest. For Menelaus conspired with Andronicus to 
remove Onias before the king was informed of the 
theft committed in the Temple, and of the use made 
of the plunder. Andronicus, being himself impli- 
cated, was anxious to make Onias harmless. He 
enticed him from the temple of Apollo at Daphne, 
near Antioch, where he had taken refuge, and slew 
him (171). This was one more crime added to those 
of which Menelaus had already been guilty. The 
murder of the high-priest produced a great sensa- 
tion, even among the Greeks in Syria, and Antiochus, 
on his return, was compelled to punish the murderer 

Meanwhile Menelaus, although his accuser had 
been silenced, was forced to try to conciliate the king. 
In order to do this, he ordered his brother Lysima- 
chus to steal some more of the treasures of the Temple. 
These thefts, however, did not remain unnoticed; 
as soon as they were discovered and the perpetrator 
found out, there arose a feeling of great bitterness 

CH. xxil. MENELAUS. 449 

against him, which culminated in violence. When 
the shameful conduct of the two brothers became 
known to the people outside of Jerusalem, they hur- 
ried into the city, and joining the inhabitants of the 
capital, they threatened the violator of the Temple 
with death. Lysimachus armed his followers, and 
placed at their head a man named Avran, an old 
comrade and fellow-sinner. The unarmed people 
were not frightened by the soldiers, but attacked 
them with stones and sticks, blinded them with heaps 
of ashes, killed a great many, and put others to flight. 
Lysimachus himself was slain in the vicinity of the 
treasury of the Temple. Menelaus naturally brought 
an accusation against the rebels of Jerusalem before 
the king, and the latter organised a judicial court in 
Tyre to try the cause. Three members of the 
council, whom the people had selected for the pur- 
pose, proved in so convincing a manner the guilt of 
Lysimachus and his brother in the matter of the dese- 
cration of the Temple that the verdict would have 
turned against him. But the inventive genius of Men- 

/ r 

elaus managed to secure the interest of a creature of 
like mould, who succeeded in turning the balance in 
favour of the culprit. Antiochus, from his seat of 
justice, exonerated the criminal Menelaus, whilst 
he condemned to death the three deputies from 
Jerusalem, who had so clearly proved his guilt. 
The Tyrian witnesses of this breach of justice 
evinced their displeasure by taking a sympathetic 
part in the funeral of the three noble men, but 
Menelaus and injustice triumphed. He retained 
his coveted power, and he formed plans to revenge 
himself upon the people that hated him so fiercely. 
He calumniated his enemies, that is to say, the whole 
nation, before the king. On the one hand, he main- 
tained that his enemies were partisans of the Egyptian 
court, and that they persecuted him only because he 
opposed their party intrigues ; on the other, Mene- 
laus maligned Judaism; he said that the Law of 


Moses was replete with hatred of humanity, for it 
forbade the Jews to take part in the repasts of 
other nations, or to show any kindness to strangers. 
As Antiochus was then concentrating all his thoughts 

o o 

on the conquest of Egypt, he believed Menelaus's 
calumnies, and regarded the Judaeans with distrust. 
If he undertook the hazardous expedition against 
Egypt, it would be dangerous to leave an enemy in 
his rear who might become formidable. 

At last he carried out his long-cherished plan of 
attacking Egypt. A pretext for war is easily found, 
and Antiochus soon discovered one. His sister 
Cleopatra, married to Ptolemy V., had died, and left 
two infant sons, Philometor and Physcon, the former 
of whom was the nominal king, but his two guardians, 
Eulaeus and Lenaeus, ruled the country. Antiochus 
pretended that he was only anticipating the war which 
would shortly be directed against himself, and assem- 
bled his troops to make a descent upon Egypt. He 
delayed his attack, however, for some time, out of fear 
of the Romans. But when the latter became involved 
in a new war with Perseus, king of Macedonia, he 
ventured at last to cross the Egyptian frontier (170). 
He defeated the Egyptian army near Pelusium, and 
penetrated deeper into the country. 

The two guardians fled with the young king 
Philometor. Thereupon Antiochus took possession 
of the whole of northern Egypt, and advanced to 
Alexandria to besiege it. The inhabitants mean- 
while proclaimed the younger brother Ptolemy 
Physcon king, and defended the town so valiantly 
that the Syrian king despaired of conquering it. 
He therefore entered into negotiations with the elder 
brother, sent for him, signed a treaty with him, and 
pretended to continue the war for his benefit. The 
two kings " at one table spake lies to each other." In 
Judaea the consequences of the war were watched with 
eager suspense. If the Egyptians were victorious, the 
probability was that the sad misfortunes brought about 


by the hated high-priest would come to an end. The 
Egyptian court favoured the national Judaean party, 
and received all the patriots who fled from the 
tyranny of Antiochus and Menelaus. The report 
was suddenly spread that Antiochus had fallen, and 
the intelligence produced great excitement. The 
deposed high-priest Jason left the Ammonites, with 
whom he had found refuge, and hurried to Jerusalem s 
accompanied by a thousand men, by whose aid he 
hoped to take possession of the town. Menelaus 
barricaded the gates of Jerusalem, and fought the 
enemy from the walls. Thus arose a civil war through 
the ambition of two men, who both sought the high- 
priesthood as a road to power. But as only a small 
number of the inhabitants sided with Menelaus, Jason 
succeeded in entering Jerusalem with his troops. 
Menelaus took refuge within the walls of the Acra. 

Meanwhile Antiochus left Egypt with rich spoils 
( 1 69), perhaps with the intention of raising new troops. 
Having heard of the occurrences in Jerusalem, his 
anger was roused against the Judaeans, and the 
Covenant of Judaism; his wicked, inhuman nature 
broke forth against the people. He suddenly at- 
tacked Jerusalem, and massacred the inhabitants 
without regard to age or sex, slaughtering friend and 
foe alike. He forced his way into the Temple, and 
entered even the Holy of Holies, and as a mark of 
contempt for the God who was worshipped there, 
he removed the golden altar, the candlestick, the table, 
the golden vessels, and all the treasures which still 
remained. Menelaus acted as guide in this spolia- 
tion of the Temple. Antiochus blasphemed the God 
of Israel, whose omnipotence was sung by His fol- 
lowers, but whom he scorned, because He did not 
interfere with these sacrilegious actions. To palliate 
both the massacre of innocent people and the dese- 
cration of the Temple, he invented a falsehood which 
long afterwards continued to bring Judaism into bad 
repute amongst all civilised nations. Antiochus de- 


clared that he had seen in the Holy of Holies the 
statue of a man with a long beard, mounted on an 
ass, and holding a book in its hand. He believed 
it to be the statue of the law-giver Moses, who had 
given the Judaeans inhuman, horrible laws to sepa- 
rate them from all other peoples. Amongst the 
Greeks and Romans the rumour was spread that 
Antiochus had found the head of an ass made of gold 
in the Temple, which the Judaeans venerated, and 
that consequently they worshipped asses. Antiochus 
was probably the author of another horrible lie in- 
vented to blacken the Judaeans: it was said that 
he had discovered, lying in bed in the Temple, a 
Greek, who entreated to be released, as the Judaeans 
were in the habit of killing a Greek every year, and 
feeding on his intestines, meanwhile swearing hatred 
against all Greeks, whom they were determined to 
destroy. "Whether this vile calumny proceeded 
directly from Antiochus, or whether these fables were 
only attributed to him, there is no doubt that he 
blackened the reputation of the Judaeans by spreading 
the report that Judaism inculcated hatred towards 
all other nations. This was the first fruit of the long- 
cherished wish to be associated with the Greeks. 

A veil of grief was drawn over Jerusalem, and the 
house of Jacob was dishonoured. 

"The leaders and the elders moaned, youths and maidens hid 
themselves, the beauty of the women was disfigured, the bridegroom 
lifted up his voice in sorrow instead of joyous song, and the bride 
wept in her bridal chamber." (i MACC. i. 26-28.) 

But this was by no means the end ; more sorrowful 
days were in store for Judaea. Antiochus undertook 
a second campaign against Egypt, and the Judaeans 
were destined a second time to suffer from his anger 
at the unsuccessful termination of the war. The two 
royal brothers Philometor and Physcon were recon- 
ciled with each other by the help of their sister and the 
Romans; Philometor was proclaimed king in Alexan- 
dria. Antiochus was furious at this ; for his desire 

CH. xxn. APOLLONIUS. 453 

was to employ the helpless and cowardly Philometor 
as his tool, and to rule Egypt through him. As the 
Romans were still involved in a Macedonian war, he 
thought he might venture to attack Egypt a second 
time (168). He entered the country without opposi- 
tion, and pushed on as far as Alexandria; the king of 
Egypt had meanwhile despatched envoys to Rome to 
ask for help from the senate. Three Roman depu- 
ties, with instructions to tarry on the road until 
they heard the issue of the Macedonian war, were 
thereupon sent to Antiochus to bid him desist. After 
the successful battle of Pydna, the destruction of the 
Macedonian army, and the flight of King Perseus 
(June 22, 1 68), the three Roman deputies hurried to 
the camp of Antiochus, and brought him the com- 
mand of the senate to leave Egypt. When the 
Syrian king asked for time to consider, Popillius 
Lsenas, drawing a circle with his stick, sternly de- 
clared that, before stepping out of this circle, Antio- 
chus was to state whether he wished for peace or 
war with Rome. Antiochus knew how inexorable 
were Roman commands, and therefore determined to 
depart immediately (end of June, 168). 

Antiochus, " the Illustrious," returned to his capital. 
The knowledge of his humiliation tormented him 
the more, as he had to feign friendship and satisfac- 
tion before the Romans. He vented his secret anger 
in unparalleled cruelties upon the Judaeans. They 
had, he said, shown pleasure at his degradation ; 
they had proclaimed aloud that the God they wor- 
shipped humbled the haughty, and had therefore 
prepared this mortification for him. Apollonius, one 
of his princely subjects, and former governor of 
Mysia, entered the Judaean capital, accompanied by 
fierce troops, apparently with peaceful intentions. 
Suddenly, however, on a Sabbath, when resistance 
was impossible, the Greek or Macedonian mercena- 
ries threw themselves on the inhabitants, killed men 
and youths, took women and children prisoners, and 


sent them to the slave markets. Apollonius also de- 
stroyed many houses in the capital, and pulled down 
the walls of Jerusalem, for he wished it to disappear 
from the list of important cities. What induced the 
madman and his wild troops to spare the Sanctuary? 
They did not destroy it, because Antiochus wanted 
the Temple for another purpose ; but they gave vent 
to their anger by attacking its surroundings, burning 
the wooden gates, and destroying the halls "with 
hammer and axe." Within the Temple there was 
nothing left to steal. The inhabitants who had 
not met with death escaped, and only the most 
rabid Hellenists, the Syrian soldiers, and strangers 
remained in the deserted places. "Jerusalem be- 
came strange to her own children." The Temple 
was also abandoned, for the faithful priests and Le- 
vites had left, and the Hellenists did not trouble 
themselves about the sacred building ; the Acra 
was their resort. Here was stationed the strong 
Syrian garrison, and here also dwelt the Hellenists. 
This place was protected against any attack by high, 
strong walls and towers overlooking the Temple, 
and it was filled with arms and provisions. 

The desolation soon became unbearable to Mene- 
laus, the instigator of all these horrors. Of what use 
was it to be high-priest if no worshippers came to 
the Temple, or to be ruler over the nation if the 
people turned their backs upon him? Hearing 
nothing but the echo of his own voice, he became 
gloomy. To free himself from this painful position he 
resorted to new infamy. Judaism, with its laws and 
customs, was to be abolished, and its followers were 
to be compelled to adopt the Greek faith. An- 
tiochus, full of hatred and anger against both the 
Judaeans and their religion, acceded to Menelaus's 
plan, and had it carried out with his usual inflexibility. 
The Judaeans were to become Hellenised, and thereby 
reduced to obedience, or, if they opposed his will, 
to be put to death. He not only wished to be- 


come master of the Judaean people, but to prove to 
them the impotence of the God they served so faith- 
fully. He, who disdained the gods of his ancestors, 
considered it mockery that the Judseans should 
still hope that their God would destroy him, the 
proud blasphemer, and he determined to challenge 
and defeat the God of Israel. Thereupon Antiochus 
issued a decree, which was sent forth to all the towns 
of Judaea, commanding the people to renounce the 
laws of their God, and to offer sacrifice only to the 
Greek gods. Altars and idols were to be erected 
everywhere for that purpose, and, in order to strike 
an effectual blow at Judaism, Antiochus ordained 
that unclean animals, particularly swine, should be 
used at the sacrifices. He forbade, under severe 
penalty, three religious rites which outwardly dis- 
tinguished the Judaeans from the heathen, namely, cir- 
cumcision, the keeping of the Sabbath and the festivals, 
and the abstinence from unclean food. Officials were 
appointed to see that his orders were carefully carried 
out, and these officials were hard-hearted men, who 
punished with death any person infringing the royal 
commands. The Temple was first desecrated, and 
Antiochus himself sent a noble Antiochian thither 
to dedicate the Sanctuary to Jupiter. A swine was 
sacrificed on the altar in the court, and its blood was 
sprinkled in the Holy of Holies, on the stone which 
Antiochus had imagined to be the statue of Moses ; 
the flesh was cooked, and its juice spilt over the 
leaves of the Holy Scriptures. The so-called high- 
priest Menelaus and the other Judaean Hellenists 
were to partake of the swine's flesh. The roll of the 
Law, which was found in the Temple, was not only 
bespattered, but burnt, because this teacher of purity 
and love for all humanity, so Antiochus maintained, 
inculcated hatred of mankind. This was its first 
baptism of fire. The statue of Jupiter, " the abomi- 
nation of destruction," was then placed on the altar, 
and to him sacrifices were henceforth to be offered 
(17 Tammuz, July, 168). 


Thus the Temple in Jerusalem, the only place of 
holiness on earth, was thoroughly desecrated, and 
the God of Israel was apparently unseated by the 
Hellenic Zeus. How will the people bear this un- 
paralleled violation ? Will they submit to the stern 
edict of the heartless king and his officials, and allow 
themselves to be deprived of their nationality and 
their God? It was a severe and momentous ordeal. 
Death threatened all those who openly confessed 
Judaism, and they dared not even call themselves 
Judaeans. But the persecuted people came out of 
their trial victoriously, and the blood of martyrs sealed 
their union with God and His Law. 

The Judaeans who were dispersed in Syrian and 
Phoenician towns, in closest proximity to the Greeks, 
and were included in this forced conversion, affected 
submission to the order, sacrificed to the Greek gods, 
and concealed or denied their religion. But even 
amongst these some remained faithful, and gave 
their lives in testimony of the truth of the Lav/. In 
Antioch an aged man named Eleazar suffered a 
martyr's death rather than partake of the idolatrous 
sacrifices. It was related in Jewish circles outside 
of Judsea, that a mother and seven sons, defying 
threats and persuasion, cheerfully went into death 
for the Law. These heroic martyrs, both young 
and old, set a noble example to the Judaeans, and 
the number of those who suffered for their faith 
increased from day to day. The overseers whom 
Antiochus had appointed to carry out his decrees 
directed their attention to the smaller towns, whither 
the inhabitants of Jerusalem had fled. Here they 
built altars, and summoned the people in the name 
of the king to offer swine to Jupiter, and then to eat 
the flesh, and to break the Sabbath by working on 
the day of rest. They particularly insisted that sacri- 
fices should be offered every month on the date 
which corresponded to that of Antiochus's birthday. 
On the bacchanalian festival of Dionysus, the cele- 


bration of which consisted in opening barrels of wine, 
they were compelled to deck themselves with ivy, like 
the Greeks, to institute processions, and to utter wild 
cries of joy in honour of the Greek Bacchus. When 
one of the officials came into a country town, and 
called the people together to give proofs of their 
secession from Judaism, he found but few to meet 
him. Many had fled and sought shelter in the 
caves and ravines of the Judaean mountains, or in the 
waste land near the Dead Sea. Antiochus was 
greatly irritated by this resistance, and he issued 
command upon command, recommending the utmost 
cruelty in the punishment of the disobedient people. 
The officials therefore continued their persecutions 
with redoubled zeal. They tore and burnt the rolls 
of the Law whenever they found them, and killed 
those who were found to seek strength and conso- 
lation in their perusal. They destroyed all houses 
of worship and education, and if they found women 
in confinement who, in the absence of their husbands, 
circumcised their sons themselves, these barbarians 
hanged them with their babes on the walls of the 

But all such cruelties, instead of intimidating the 
people, only increased their determined resistance. 
Death had lost its terrors. Many preferred even 
death to violating the dietary laws. This noble firm- 
ness was particularly encouraged by the strictly 
religious sect of Chasidim. Some of these emerged 
from their hiding-places, and entering towns and vil- 
lages, called the inhabitants together, spoke with 
warmth and conviction, and incited them to be stead- 
fast and constant. Their preaching was all the more 
effective as they gave proof of indomitable courage 
in the face of death. 

Before long, however, the Syrian commanders in 
Jerusalem discovered the leaders of this courageous 
resistance ; some reprobate Hellenists had probably 
betrayed the hiding-place of the Chasidim. There- 


upon the Phrygian Philip, commander of the garrison, 
went in search of the concealed fugitives. On a Sab- 
bath he and his soldiers surrounded the caves in 
which thousands of men, women and children had 
sought refuge, he summoned them to come out in 
obedience to Antiochus's commands, and promised 
them safety if they submitted voluntarily to his orders. 
They answered unanimously, "We will not obey 
your command to break the Sabbath." Then Philip 
ordered his troops to commence the attack. The 
Chasidim looked on with undaunted courage, but 
did not try to defend themselves, nor to raise a stone 
to close the entrance to the caves, for fear of dese- 
crating the Sabbath. Thus calling heaven and earth 
to witness their innocence, all the people perished in 
the caves by the hands of the murderous followers of 
Philip. Some were killed by the firebrands thrown 
into the caves, whilst others were suffocated by the 
smoke, which had penetrated into the interior. 

Great was the grief of the faithful Judseans when 
they learned the horrible death of the men who had 
been to them a light and an example. The most 
courageous lost heart. What was to be the outcome 
of this unbearable position ? The faithful were bowed 
down by the thought that Heaven vouchsafed them 
no visible sign of hope in this, their unparalleled 
trial ; no prophet rose up to foretell when this fearful 
ordeal was to end. 

When the bloody persecution of the Judaean people 
had reached such a height that either the destruction 
of the whole nation, or their submission from ex- 
haustion and despair seemed imminent, an open 
rebellion took the place of passive resistance. 

It was brought about by a family whose members 
combined the purest piety with courage, wisdom and 
prudence ; this was the family of the Hasmonseans or 
Maccabees. An aged father and five heroic sons 
brought about a revolution, and kindled a spirit of 
enthusiasm which secured the existence ot Judaism 


for all time. The aged father, Mattathias, was the 
son of Johanan, son of Simon Hasmonai, an Aaron- 
ide ; he had left Jerusalem in consequence of the 
desecration of the Temple, and had established him- 
self in the small town of Modin, three miles north of 
Jerusalem. His five sons, who all helped to raise 
the people from its deep degradation, and found 
their death in defending their country, bore Aramaic 
names: Johanan Gadi, Simon Tharsi, Judas Maccabi, 
Eleazar Hawran, and Jonathan Haphus. This family 
of Hasmonaeans, who had many followers, on account 
of the consideration in which they were held, felt the 
miserable condition of their country with poignant 
sorrow. " What is life to us, now that the Sanctuary 
is desecrated and Judaea has become a slave?" 
Thus spoke Mattathias to his sons, and he determined 
not to remain quiet and sorrowing in his hiding- 
place, but either to help the good cause or to die 
courageously for it. 

When Apelles, one of the Syrian overseers, reached 
Modin, to summon the inhabitants to abandon the 
Law and to become idolaters, Mattathias and his sons 
intentionally appeared, and when commanded to set 
an example of submission, the former answered : " If 
all the people in the kingdom obey the order of the 
monarch, to depart from the faith of their fathers, I 
and my sons will abide by the Covenant of our fore- 
fathers." When one of the Judoeans approached the 
altar to sacrifice to Jupiter, Mattathias could no 
longer restrain his wrath, but rushed upon the apos- 
tate, killing him at the altar. His sons, armed with 
long knives, fell upon Apelles and his troops, killed 
them, and destroyed the altar. This act proved the 
turning-point; it set an example of courageous re- 
sistance as against inactive despair. Immediately 
after this attack upon the officers of Antiochus, 
Mattathias cried out: "Whosoever is zealous for 
the Law, and whosoever wishes to support the Cov- 
enant, follow me." Thereupon the inhabitants of 


Modin and the vicinity followed him to a secure 
hiding-place which he selected for them in the 
mountains of Ephraim; and there the remainder of 
the Chasidim, who had escaped death in the caves, 
and all those who had fled from oppression joined 

The number of resolute defenders of their country 
daily increased. Mattathias did not conceal from 
them that they would have to fight hard battles, but 
exhorted them to be ready to face death. Warned 
by the exaggerated piety of the Chasidim, who had 
scrupled to move a stone on the Sabbath in their own 
defence, the assembly which surrounded the aged 
Hasmonsean decided to repulse with arms any attack 
made upon them even on the day of rest. The 
Chasidim accepted this decision, and the men of 
peace, hitherto entirely absorbed in the Holy Scrip- 
tures, now prepared to wage war. A commander 
who inspires confidence creates warriors. There 
was a recurrence of the hopeless condition which 
had prevailed at the time of the Judges and at the 
beginning of Saul's reign. Some of the inhabitants 
were hiding themselves in caves, others went over to 
the enemy, and only a small number were willing to 
sacrifice their lives for their country ; they had no 
arms, and knew nothing of warfare. Victory seemed 
more hopeless now than in those olden days. Matta- 
thias was careful not to wage open war against the 
Syrians with his small band. Well acquainted with 
every inch of the country, he entered the towns un- 
expectedly with his sons and followers, destroyed 
the idolatrous temples and altars, punished the in- 
habitants who sided with the enemy, chastised the 
Hellenists whenever he came upon them, and ad- 
mitted into the Covenant the children that had been 
left uncircumcised. From time to time he routed 
small troops of Syrian soldiers whom he happened 
to encounter, but whenever the commander of the 
garrison of Jerusalem sent a larger detachment to 


pursue the rebellious Judaeans, the latter disappeared 
as suddenly as they had come. In short, Mattathias 
waged a kind of petty warfare against the enemy, 
such as can be carried on only in mountainous 
districts, but may wear out the most powerful enemy. 

When the death of the aged Mattathias drew nigh 
(167), his followers had no need to be anxious about 
his successor; the only difficulty was the choice of 
one from amongst his five heroic sons. The dying 
father designated Simon as a wise counsellor, and 
Judas as the commander, and exhorted them all to 
sacrifice their lives for the Covenant of their fore- 
fathers, and to fight God's battle. As soon as 
Judas Maccabaeus was in command, matters took a 
favourable turn. He was a warrior such as the 
house of Israel had not known since the time of 
David and Joab, than whom he was nobler and purer. 
Invisible strength seemed to emanate from his hero- 
soul, which imbued all who surrounded him with the 
same dauntless courage. He was endowed with the 
instincts of a general, and this enabled him to fight 
at the right moment, to take advantage of his 
enemy's weakness, and to deceive him by means of 
feigned attacks. In the hour of battle, "he was like 
a lion in his rage," and when at rest, like a dove 
in gentleness and simplicity. He was as resigned 
to the will of God as the holiest men of old in Israel, 
and relied not on his sword, but on God's help, 
praying to Him before each decisive action. Judas 
Maccabaeus was a true hero of Israel, who only 
resorted to bloodshed when compelled by necessity 
in order to recover lost freedom, and to raise a 
humbled people. He gave his name to the whole 

At first he followed the example of his father, and 
sallied out only secretly or at night to punish the 
apostates, to win over the wavering, and to harass 
small bands of Syrian troops. But as the number of 
his followers steadily increased, augmented by pre- 


tended converts to heathendom, who were glad to 
throw off their masks, and by those who were cured of 
their love for the Greeks by the cruelty and despotism 
of the latter, Judas ventured to confront a Syrian 
army under Apollonius. The latter had united the 
garrison at Samaria with other troops which he had 
collected in order to fight the rebels, for he had 
deemed it imprudent to withdraw the soldiers from 
Jerusalem, or rather, from the Acra. This was the 
first open battle which Judas fought, and success 
rewarded his valour. Apollonius was killed, and 
his soldiers were either slain on the battle-field, or 
sought safety in flight. Though the number of the 
defeated Syrians was small, still this victory encour- 
aged the Judaeans. They had met the cruel foe face 
to face, and their daring had triumphed ; they con- 
sidered it a proof that God had not abandoned His 
people, but still watched over and protected them. 
Judas took the sword which had dropped from the 
hand of Apollonius, and fought with it until his death. 
A Syrian commander named Heron, guided by 
some treacherous Hellenists, pursued Judas and his 
followers into the mountains, and hoped to crush 
them with his overwhelming numbers. When the 
Judsean soldiers first saw the great numbers of men 
assembled near Bethhoron, they cried out, "How 
can we wage war against such an enemy?" But 
Judas knew how to calm their fears, and reminded 
them of the precious treasures they were called upon 
to defend, their lives, their children, and the Law. 
A vigorous attack was made on the Syrians, who 
were totally defeated. Eight hundred men of 
Heron's army remained dead on the battle-field, and 
the others fled westward into the land of the Philis- 
tines. This first decisive victory of Judas, at Beth- 
horon, over a much larger army than his own (166), 
inspired the Judaeans with confidence, and filled their 
enemies with terror ; they were amazed both at the 
bravery and the strategical skill of the Maccabee, 
and at the endurance of the people. 


What was Antiochus, the author of all these calam- 
ities, doing meanwhile ? At first he troubled himself 
little about the Judaeans, foolishly believing that his 
decrees would suffice to subdue and convert them. 
But when he learned of the losses of his army, and 
when the fame of Judas reached his ear, he at last 
admitted that he had underrated his enemy's power 
of resistance. In the first moment of anger he 
determined to send forth a large army, and make 
an end of his refractory opponents. But he was 
unable to carry out his plans immediately; he had 
few troops left, and would have been compelled to 
obtain mercenaries. For this purpose he needed 
money, and his treasury was but scantily supplied ; 
for his extravagant expenditures were greatly in 
excess of his revenues, and owing to the war 
with Judas, the taxes were not collected in Judaea. 
Other embarrassments were added to these, for 
alarming news reached him from the east and the 
north. Arsaces, his satrap of Parthia, had revolted 
against the Syrio-Babylonian Empire, and had freed 
himself and his people. Artaxias, king of Armenia, 
totally ignored his fealty to Antiochus, and acted 
like an independent sovereign. The inhabitants 
of Aradus, and other Phoenician towns, also re- 
fused to obey him, and thus his revenues decreased 
steadily. In order to replenish his treasury he 
would have been compelled to wage war against 
these revolted nations, but to carry on this war he 
needed money. Thus he fell from one trouble into 
another ; but, somehow, the half-insane Antiochus 
managed to hire some mercenary troops for a year. 
Intending to lead half of the troops himself against 
the rebellious provinces beyond the Euphrates, he 
placed the other half under the command of Lysias, 
a man of royal parentage, whom he appointed his 
lieutenant for the country between the Euphrates and 
the Egyptian border. To Lysias also he entrusted the 
education of his son. Antiochus's intentions regard- 


ing Judaea were now quite altered. Hellenisation 
was no longer thought of. His plan of changing 
the Jews into Greek citizens had been frustrated. 
They had shown themselves incorrigible, and quite 
unworthy of the benefit he wished to confer upon 
them. He therefore determined that they should 
be exterminated. He commissioned Lysias to march 
against Judaea with the troops left in his charge, 
and, after conquering the Judaeans, to destroy and 
uproot every remnant of Israel and every trace of 
Jerusalem ; and the land was to be colonised by 
foreign tribes, and divided among them. The Ju- 
daean Hellenists were likewise comprised in this plan 
of destruction. Antiochus gave them up to their 
fate. He did not care for the small number who 
slavishly adhered to his commands. As soon as 
this plan became known, all the Judaeans were 
seized with terror and despair, especially those 
who lived among other nations, outside of Judaea. 
Would the small but heroic army, under the guid- 
ance of the Maccabees, be able to resist the onslaught 
of a numerous horde, provided with elephants? " In 
every town, and in every country, where the king's 
commands became known, great terror filled the 
hearts of the Judseans, and they fasted and wept. 
The Elders dressed themselves in their penitential 
garb, and lay in ashes." But this unprecedentedly cruel 
plan of destroying a whole people, men, women and 
children, roused new champions for the defence of 
their country. Even the more worldly-minded men 
among the Judaeans, and those who, though anxious 
for innovation, had not entirely fallen away from 
Judaism, now joined the Maccabees, for they had no 
other alternative. 

However, the actual state of affairs was dismal 
enough. A large Syrian army was expected at 
every moment to crush the Judaean soldiers. It was 
absolutely necessary, therefore, that the whole nation 
should be animated with enthusiasm to fight and to 

CH. xxil. THE BOOK OF DANIEL. 465 

endure. A peculiar book was compiled to further 
this object, and circulated amongst the more educated 
of the Judaeans ; this was the Book of Daniel. It 
was undoubtedly written by one of the Chasidim, 
and intended for his party. The object of this 
apocalyptic and artistically compiled work, written 
partly in Hebrew and partly in Chaldsean, was to 
give examples of firmness in adhering to religious 
convictions, to encourage the reader to endurance, 
and to make him feel that this bloody persecution 
of the people would not be of long duration. Even 
the most pious and faithful were beginning to doubt 
God's mercy, for no prophet appeared to reveal 
the object of their cruel sufferings, or to announce 
when they would cease. The Book of Daniel offered 
consolation in this respect, showing that prophecy 
was not wholly extinct in Israel, for here was a 
vision, which announced the aim, and predicted the 
end of their misery. "There is yet prophecy among 
us" this is repeatedly urged as a consolation. 

The Book first quotes examples of constancy in 
religious observances even under great difficulties 
and danger, and shows that this constancy was re- 
warded by a miraculous escape from death ; the end 
of the book also contains prophecies for the future. 
The book further tells how the kings who violated 
the Sanctuary, or exercised religious despotism were 
humiliated, and forced to repent of their crimes. 
The Book of Daniel half conceals and half reveals, 
in a sort of allegory, the destruction of the wicked 
Syrian Empire, which was the heir to former king- 
doms. It foretells that the fourth kingdom on earth, 
following that of the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians 
and the Macedonians, would utter foolish words 
against the Almighty, seek to destroy the pious and 
to turn them away from the festivals and the laws. 
The pious would fall into its clutches for "a time, two 
times, and half a time." Then dominion would pass 
into the hands of the people of the Holy One for 


ever, and all knees would bow down to Him. In 
another vision he saw the fourth Syrian Empire 
extending far away to the south, to the east and to 
the north, rising to the heavens, and casting down 
stars unto the earth, and crushing them. It would 
exalt itself over the King of the heavenly Hosts, it 
would abolish the daily sacrifice, and set up an idol 
in the Sanctuary. To the question: 

" How long shall be the vision concerning the continual burnt- 
offering and the transgression that maketh desolate, to give up both 
the Sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?" (DANIEL 
viii. 13.) 

a voice answered 

"Unto two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; 
when the Sanctuary shall be justified." (verse 14.) 

The Book of Daniel, with its mystical revelations, 
was undoubtedly read with great interest by the 
Assidseans. The apocalyptic form, which gave each 
line a peculiar meaning, and reflected the present 
conditions, lent it a great attraction. Moreover, it 
solved the problem of the present calamities, and 
showed the object of the horrible persecutions ; these 
were intended, on the one hand, to destroy sin, and 
on the other, to ennoble believers. It was evident 
that the duration of the period of affliction had been 
determined from the beginning, and that this very 
duration, too, had a secret meaning. The worldly 
kingdoms would disappear, and at the end of this 
time, God's kingdom, the kingdom of the holy ones, 
would commence, and those who had died or had 
been slain during the persecutions would awake to 
eternal life. Thus, though no prophet arose, still 
there existed a prophecy for the present time. 

Meanwhile the danger became daily more threaten- 
ing for the Judaeans. Whilst Antiochus had been 
marching eastward (166) with a part of his army, 
his lieutenant Lysias had chosen a general called 
Ptolemy, son of Dorymenes(the one who had favoured 


Menelaus, and who was commander in Coelesyria and 
Phoenicia), and had appointed two able and experi- 
enced generals under him, Nicanor son of Patroclus, 
and Gorgias. The latter, having received orders to 
begin the campaign against the Judaeans, led his 
division, which, it is said, consisted of 40,000, including 
cavalry, along the coast into the very heart of Judaea. 
Samaritans and Philistines, both arch-enemies of the 
Judaeans, placed themselves at his disposal. He was 
so certain of victory that he invited slave-traders to 
come into his camp, and to bring with them money 
and chains. The Syrian commander thought that it 
would be more prudent to sell the captives as slaves 
than to kill them ; but whilst he was thus prema- 
turely disposing of them, the Judaean warriors, num- 
bering 6,000, assembled round Judas Maccabaeus. 
Before leading them into action, the commander, in 
order to animate them with the spirit of heroic self- 
sacrifice, organised a solemn assembly in the moun- 
tain city of Mizpah. It is a remarkable coincidence 
that, nine hundred years before, the prophet Samuel 
had, on a similar occasion, assembled the people in 
the same place, in order to select a leader against 
the enemy who was then planning the destruction of 
Israel. Judas chose Mizpah, because it had been a 
central meeting-place for those Judaeans who had 
survived the destruction of the Temple under Geda- 
liah, when there had been a small temple there. 
The assembly was deeply moved ; all its members 
observed a strict fast during the day, wore mourning 
garments, and prayed with all the fervour of their 
sorrowing hearts for help and compassion. A scroll 
of the Law, which the Judaean army carried with 
them, was unfolded, and excited great lamentations, 
for it reminded them that Antiochus wished to force 
them to abandon the Law and to become heathens. 

But Judas endeavoured, not only to awaken emo- 
tion, but to arouse courage, and to prepare the people 
for the difficult and bloody action that awaited them. 


He divided his army into four parts, and placed 
his three elder brothers each in command of a division. 
In accordance with the Law, he issued a proclamation 
to the effect that all those who were newly married, 
who had built a house or planted a new vineyard, or 
who lacked sufficient courage, were permitted to with- 
draw from the ranks. Then he marched towards Em- 
maus, an eight or nine hours' journey from Mizpah, 
to meet the enemy. Gorgias had encamped, with 
about 5,000 foot-soldiers and 1,000 cavalry, in the 
plain near Emmaus, because he thought it easier 
to penetrate from there into the mountains of Judaea 
to attack the Maccabaean army. The Syrian leader 
wished to surprise the Judseans in the night, but 
was outwitted by Maccabseus. As soon as night set 
in, Judas left the camp with his followers, marched 
by well-known roads to the west, and came upon the 
enemy's rear. When Gorgias found the camp of 
the Judseans deserted, he imagined that fear had 
driven them into the mountains, and he pursued 
them thither. This was the object of Judas's 
stratagem. He followed the Syrians, reached their 
camp, set it on fire, and pursued the troops. Gorgias 
noticed only at dawn that the enemy he was seeking 
in the mountains was following him from the plain; 
he had no time to order more than a part of his army 
to halt, and to confront the Judaeans. 

Meanwhile Maccabaeus had arranged his division 
in perfect order, and encouraged them to fight for 
their country, their Law% and their Sanctuary. His 
younger brother hurriedly read to them a few en- 
couraging verses out of the Law, and gave the war- 
riors the watchword "God's help!" The Judaean 
army was greater in number than the single division 
of Syrian troops, and fought with great enthusiasm. 
Thus the enemy was beaten, and put to flight. Judas 
forbade his soldiers to seize any booty, as they still 
had to fight the other division of the enemy's army, 
which was returning from the mountains. These 


troops shortly made their appearance, and the Ju- 
dseans stood ready to resume the battle ; but it did 
not take place, for as soon as the Syrians saw the 
smoke rising from their camp, they turned and fled 
southwards into the land of the Philistines. " There was 
a great rescue on that day." The victory of Emmaus 
(166), gained by clever strategy and resolute valour, 
was of vast importance. It crippled the enemy, and 
inspired the Judaeans with confidence in their own 
power. Neither the cavalry nor the foot-soldiers, 
with their helmets and shields, alarmed them any 
longer, and the arms which they needed fell into 
their hands after the enemy had taken to flight. The 
booty consisted of gold, silver, and purple, and of the 
sacks of money belonging to the numerous slave- 
traders who had come to the Syrian camp. All these 
things were not to be despised, as they became the 
means of victory to them in future struggles. The 
victors returned to their meeting-place at Modin 
with songs of rejoicing, the refrain of which was, 
" Praise the Lord, for He is good ; for His mercy 
endureth forever." 

But not yet could they lay down their arms ; they 
knew that Lysias, who had received orders to destroy 
the Judseans, would not let this first defeat pass 
quietly, but that he would strain every effort to repair 
the disaster. They therefore remained armed, and 
had the happiness of seeing their numbers increase 
to 1 0,000. If ever a war deserved the name of " holy," 
the one conducted by the Maccabeeans certainly 
proved worthy of that appellation. In the following 
year (165), when Lysias attacked Judaea with a pow- 
erful, picked army of cavalry and foot-soldiers, he 
found the Judaeans more courageous and determined 
than ever. He had not ventured to enter their land 
on the same road as before, but had taken a cir- 
cuitous route, intending to invade Judaea from the 
territory occupied by the Idumaeans. He encamped 
near Bethzur, a five hours' march to the south of Jeru- 


salem. Maccabaeus marched with his 10,000 men to 
meet him ; a regular battle ensued, in which the impet- 
uous attacks of the Judaeans again secured a victory 
over the strategy of the Syrian hirelings. Lysias 
departed, furious at his defeat; but he flattered him- 
self that by increasing the number of his army he 
would ultimately master his opponents. Only in the 
Acra of Jerusalem, the incorrigible Hellenists, with 
Menelaus and a small Syrian garrison, still held 




Return of Judas to Jerusalem Reconsecration of the Temple The 
Feast of Lights Fortification of the Capital The Idumaeans 
and Ammonites defeated by Judas Ill-treatment of the Galilean 
Judaeans Measures against Timotheus Death of Antiochus 
Embassy of the Hellenists to Antiochus V. Battle at Bethzur 
Retreat of Judas Affairs in Jerusalem Alcimus Intervention 
of the Romans Nicanor's Interview with Judas Battle of 
Adarsa Death of Judas Results of his Career Condition of 
the People after the Death of Judas The Chasidim, the Hel- 
lenists, and the Hasmonaeans Jonathan His Guerilla Warfare 
against Bacchides Death of the High-Priest Alcimus Truce 
between Jonathan and Bacchides Jonathan as High-Priest 
His far-sighted Policy His Captivity and his Death. 

165 143 B. c. E. 

THE two decisive battles of Emmaus and Bethhoron 
had entirely altered the position of Judaea. The 
imminent danger was averted. Three years and a 
half had passed since the beginning of the religious 
persecution and the desecration of the Temple 
(Tammuz, 168 Marheshvan, 165), and, just as the 
Book of Daniel had prophesied, peace had followed 
the disastrous excitement of this period. Macca- 
baeus and his followers took advantage of this fav- 
ourable moment to march into Jerusalem, and put 
an end to the desecration which had hitherto held 
sway there. The condition of the holy city was deeply 
distressing to her faithful sons, who had shed their 
hearts' blood to save her. The town looked like a 
desert, the sporting-place of her desecrators. The 
Sanctuary was deserted, its gates were burnt, its 
halls were destroyed ; idolatrous altars stood every- 
where ; the image of Zeus, the desolating abomina- 
tion, towered on the altar, and statues of Anti- 


ochus insulted the Judaeans. But the holy war- 
riors had not time to give vent to their sorrow 
at the general desecration, for they were forced 
to act quickly for fear of being disturbed in their 
work of purification. Their first duty was to destroy 
all statues of Jove, and to remove all unclean objects 
from the Temple courts (3rd Kislev, 165). They 
also removed the altar, thinking it unfit for their 
sacrifices, as it had been so frequently polluted. A 
council of elders determined to place the stones of 
the altar in one of the porches of the entrance-court, 
and to keep them there until the prophet Elijah 
should appear and decree what was to be done with 
them. Meanwhile a new altar was built, new doors 
were put up, and new vessels were brought to the 
Temple to replace the old ones. All these prepara- 
tions were finished in three weeks, and early in the 
morning of the 25th Kislev (November), 165, the 
Temple was consecrated with sacrifices and thanks- 
givings. The two former consecrations certainly 
could not have been held with greater fervour and 
devotion. The purest feelings animated the con- 
gregation, and the mortal anguish, which they had 
endured for three years and a half, now gave place 
to feelings of joy and hope. 

The consecration of the Temple not only denoted 
the victory of the weak over the strong, the faithful 
over the sinner, but also, and especially, the victory 
of Judaism over Hellenic paganism, of the God of 
Israel over idols. People from every town of Judaea 
took part in the festival, and the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem lit bright lamps in front of their houses 
as a symbol of the Law, called " Light " by the poets. 
The Hasmonsean brothers and the other members of 
the Great Council decided that in future the week 
beginning on the 25th of Kislev should be held as a 
joyous festival, to commemorate the consecration of the 
Temple. Year after year the members of the House 
of Israel were to be reminded of the victory of the 


few over the many, and of the re-establishment of 
the Sanctuary. This decree has been conscientiously 
carried out. For two thousand years these days have 
been celebrated as the " Days of Consecration " 
(Hanukkah) by the lighting of lamps in every house- 
hold in Israel. From this custom the days derived 
their name of " Feast of Lights." Naturally, the old 
order of things was restored in the Temple. Priests 
and Levites were reinstated in their offices ; only 
those Aaronides who had taken part in idolatrous 
worship were excluded from the Sanctuary. This 
severity, just as it was, produced bad results, and 
increased the difficulty of the position of the Judae- 
ans. The priests among the Hellenists and followers 
of Menelaus, despairing of reconciliation with the 
representatives of the people, became more and 
more embittered in their hatred against the patriotic, 
pious party. Maccabaeus had placed his soldiers 
on guard whilst the Temple was being restored, to 
prevent the Hellenists from hindering the people in 
their work, and now that the consecration was over, 
he fortified the Temple Mount by means of a high 
wall with two strong towers, and placed a garrison 
in them, to protect it from sudden attacks from the 
neighbouring Birah or Acra. Foreseeing that the 
people would have to fight more battles before they 
could secure their freedom, he took the precaution of 
protecting the country in different ways, among which 
was the fortification of Bethzur, the town from which 
Lysias had sought to penetrate into Judaea with his 
army. It was to be in particular a stronghold against 
the Idumaeans. The victory of the heroes of Israel 
over the well-armed Syrian troops increased the 
burning hatred of the neighbouring nations against 
the judaeans, and goaded them on to cruel enmity 
against the members of the people who dwelt 
amongst them, or who had fled to them for refuge. 
They either grudged them their victory or feared 
their superiority. The Philistines, in the south-west ; 


the Phoenicians, in the north-west; the Ammonites, 
on the other side of the Jordan ; the Syrians and 
Macedonians everywhere in the neighbourhood, and 
the Idumaeans in the south, were imbued with hatred 
of the Judaeans. 

When driven away from their homes by the 
Nabataeans, the Idumaeans had settled in the old 
Judaean territory, and had even taken possession of 
Hebron. They showed themselves the bitter enemies 
of the Judaeans in Antiochus's time, just as they had 
done under Nebuchadnezzar's despotism ; they were 
ever on the watch for the fugitives, whom they ill- 
treated, and sometimes even killed. It was therefore 
very important to reduce them to subjection. Judas 
first undertook an expedition against the sons of 
Esau in Akrabattine, defeated them, and drove them 
from their dwelling-places. He then crossed the 
Jordan with his army, fought the Ammonites, who 
were led by a Syrian warrior, Timotheus, an implac- 
able and indefatigable enemy of the Judaeans. When 
Judas had defeated him and the Ammonites, and 
had taken possession of their capital Rabbath-Am- 
mon (Philadelphia), Timotheus sought shelter in the 
neighbouring fortress Jaazer, commanded by his 
brother Chaireas. Twenty Judaean youths are re- 
ported to have shown wonderful valour, climbing the 
walls of this difficult fortress, and making a breach 
for the troops to enter. Judas accomplished his 
object by taking Jaazer and its "daughter towns"; he 
obtained peace for the Judaeans residing in this part 
of the country, and inspired the peoples with respect 
for the name of Israel. 

The Judsean troops had hardly returned to Jeru- 
salem before they received intelligence of other cases 
of ill-treatment of their Judaean brethren at the hands 
of their heathen neighbours. The Judaeans turned 
in their distress to Maccabaeus, as the Israelites had 
done of old to Saul. The inhabitants of Gilead and 
Bashan informed him by letter that the heathen 


tribes had collected, with Timotheus at their head, 
with the intention of utterly destroying them ; that 
1,000 Judaeans had been slaughtered in the province 
of Tobiene ; that women and children had been 
dragged into captivity, and that their property had 
been plundered by the enemy. Messengers, with 
rent garments, followed upon this missive, bringing 
letters from the Galilean Judaeans, that they also 
were threatened with death by the inhabitants of 
Acco, Tyre and Sidon. They implored Judas to come 
to their aid before it was too late. He had no need, 
like Saul, to send messengers with threatening words, 
in order to call together an army to the assistance of 
the threatened Jabesh-Gileadites, for his devoted fol- 
lowers constituted the whole fighting power of the 
land. Maccabaeus gave the command of one part 
of his army to his brother Simon, with orders to 
march to the assistance of the Judaeans of Galilee, 
whilst he and his brother Jonathan, with another 
division, prepared to rescue his oppressed brethren 
beyond the Jordan. The rest of the Judaean forces, 
under the command of two leaders, were to guard 
the western boundary of Judaea from the inroads of 
the Philistines. Simon accomplished his task with 
rapidity and good-fortune. He began by hastening 
to Acco, whose Judaean inhabitants were the worst 
sufferers at the hands of the Greeks or Macedonians. 
His well-trained soldiers, meeting with some hostile 
forces, defeated them easily, put them to rout, and 
pursued them to the very walls of their sea-port town. 
This successful feat of arms relieved him from the 
necessity of further engagements, for the Mace- 
donians of the neighbouring towns did not venture 
to encounter the Maccabaean troops. Simon was 
therefore able to progress unmolested through Galilee, 
and to persuade the Judaeans of that province to 
migrate to Judaea. 

A more laborious contest awaited Judas in the 
Transjordanic provinces, for on his march he again 


met with the obstinate hostility of Timotheus. As 
in former ages, the heights were still crowned with 

o o 

fortresses. However, Judas succeeded in reducing 
several of them ; he razed their walls to the ground, 
disarmed their defenders, and delivered his impris- 
oned countrymen. He then assembled the Judaean 
population, led them across the Jordan, through the 
friendly city of Bethshean (Scythopolis), and shortly 
before the celebration of the feast of Pentecost (May, 
164) he returned to Jerusalem with a number of 
emigrant Judaeans from Gilead. From all cities of 
Judaea the enthusiastic people streamed to receive 
the victors and to celebrate the festival with feelings 
of joy and gratitude. New songs of praise resounded 
in the Temple. 

But Judas soon marched out again, in order to 
avenge an injury which had been received during 
his absence. His two generals, Joseph, the son of 
Zachariah, and Azariah, whom he had left behind 
to guard the land in the west, had, contrary to his 
orders, attacked Gorgias, who was occupying Jamnia 
with a force ; but they had suffered a defeat, and had 
been driven back to the Judaean mountains. Judas 
therefore embarked on a new campaign. His arms 
were again crowned with success, he destroyed sev- 
eral cities on the sea-coast, together with their tem- 
ples and idols. 

Whilst the hero of the Maccabees had been making 
fearless warriors out of his miserable and trembling 
countrymen who had hidden in caves, whilst he had 
been inspiring his people with self-confidence, and 
vanquishing the enemy far and near, the court of 
Syria had remained wrapped in the most complete 
indifference. What could have induced Lysias, who 
held the reins of government, to remain passive in 
the face of this daring defiance? Had he not the 
means of hiring mercenaries ; or did he think the 
Judaeans invincible? It is said that a distinguished 
man at the Syrian court, named Ptolemy Macron, 


had advocated the cause of the Judseans, and had 
declared that the religious restraint imposed upon 
them was unjust. 

Suddenly important news came to Palestine con- 
cerning- Antiochus Epiphanes. The progress of that 
monarch through Parthia had not been signalised by 
any military success ; nor had he been able to refill 
his treasury. Driven by want of money, he under- 
took an expedition to the city of Susa, in Elymais, to 
plunder the temple of the goddess Anaitis; but the 
inhabitants resisted the invader and forced him to 
retreat. He fell sick in the Persian city of Tabae, 
and while in a state of delirium, expired (164). He 
who had derided the idea of a Divine Being and 
Divine justice, who had deliberately assaulted all that 
men hold sacred, in the end lost confidence in him- 
self in consequence of the frustration of all his plans. 
It is quite possible that on his deathbed he repented 
of his desecration of the Temple, or, as another 
report has it, that his attack of frenzy resulted from 
the stings of conscience. At all events his last orders 
savour of madness, for he appointed one of his 
favourites, Philip, as regent of his kingdom and 
guardian of his young son Antiochus V., although 
previous to his dep irture for Persia he had invested 
Lysias with absolute power. This, his dying act, of 
pitting two rival governors against each other, thus 
dividing his country into factions, proved fatal to the 
Syrio-Macedonian kingdom, and to the Seleucidsean 

The death of Antiochus produced no change in 
the position of the Judseans. Lysias, who was 
guardian of the young king, Antiochus V. (Eupator, 
from 164 to 162), undertook no expedition against 
the Judseans. Judas Maccabseus took advantage of 
this inactivity to improve the unsatisfactory internal 
condition of his country. At that time there existed 
in Jerusalem two neighbouring fortified places that 
were in daily feud with each other, namely the Sane- 


tuary, and the fortress of the Acra, occupied by the 
Hellenists, who, with their pretended high-priest 
Menelaus, continued their hostilities against the 
patriotic and loyal Judaeans by making attacks upon 
the fortifications of the Temple. Judas Maccabseus 
took measures to bring this intolerable state of affairs 
to an end. He undertook the formal siege of the 
Acra, and raised earthworks on which he placed 
catapults, to discharge stones against the walls. 

In this emergency some of the Hellenists resolved 
to have recourse to the young king, Antiochus V. 
(Eupator), and, eluding the besiegers, travelled for 
that purpose to Antioch. Upon their arrival, they 
declared that they had been cruelly treated by the 
Juda^an party, on account of their devotion to the 
royal cause ; that they had been robbed of their 
property, and threatened with death. They also 
represented to the king and his guardian that if the 
Acra were allowed to fall into the hands of the Has- 
monaeans, the rebellious Judaeans would be utterly 
invincible. A council was thereupon held at the 
Syrian court, and it was agreed to commence hostile 
proceedings against the Hasmonaeans. Ptolemy 
Macron, who alone spoke in favour of peaceful 
measures, could gain no hearing. 

The flame of war again blazed up in the spring 
of 163 B. c. It was an unfortunate time for the 
Judaeans, as this happened to be a Sabbatical year, 
which was strictly kept by those ready to forfeit 
their lives for the Law. There was neither sowing 
nor reaping, and the people had to content them- 
selves with the fruits of the trees, with the sponta- 
neous aftergrowth of the soil, or with what had been 
planted before the beginning of the Sabbatical year. 
The garrisons of the fortresses could not be supplied 
with food. 

Lysias, accompanied by the royal child Eupator, 
and at the head of a large army with elephants, 
marched towards the south side of Judaea. Judas 


could only send a small army into the field, as he 
required the greater number of his forces for the 
defence of the Temple and of the fortress of Bethzur. 
Thus he was compelled to restrict himself to defen- 
sive operations. The garrison of Bethzur fought 
bravely, and attempted to destroy the siege-train of 
the invaders. Unfortunately, the scarcity of their 
provisions would not permit the beleaguered to 
undergo a long siege, and, moreover, they were 
betrayed by a traitor, Rodocus, who is accused of 
having revealed to the enemy the secret ways by 
which food was introduced into the fortress. At 
length famine and treachery compelled the garrison 
of Bethzur to surrender; but they were allowed free 
egress from the fortress. Relieved on this side, the 
Syrian army was now able to march upon Jerusalem. 
Nothing was left to Maccabaeus but to meet them in 


the field. He advanced at the head of his troops to 
Beth-Zachariah, not far from Bethsur, where he 
awaited the enemy. The Judaeans again performed 
prodigies of valour. Eleazar, one of the Hasmonaean 
brothers, thinking that the magnificently-attired rider 
of an elephant was the king himself, crept boldly 
under the animal, stabbed it to death, and fell crushed 
by its enormous weight. But in spite of the courage 
and daring of the Judaeans, they were obliged to 
retreat before the superior numbers of the Syrians. 
Judas retreated to Jerusalem, and entrenched himself 
with his army in the Temple fortress. Lysias soon 
followed, and began a formal siege of the Sanctuary. 
Judas did not fail to defend himself, and also erected 
catapults. As the siege continued for a long time, 
the supplies, which were not plentiful on account of 
the Sabbatical year, were soon consumed by the gar- 
rison. Tortured by hunger, the troops began to 
desert the fortress by subterranean passages. Only 
Judas Maccabaeus, his three brothers, and a small 
band of devoted followers remained steadfastly at 
their post of danger, defying the pangs of hunger. 


Jerusalem, or, more properly speaking, its last place 
of refuge, the Temple, was about to fall, as in 
the time of Nebuchadnezzar, through want of food ; 
but help came unexpectedly. 

Philip, who had been named regent of Syria by 
the dying king Antiochus Epiphanes, had raised a 
large army of Medo-Persians, and was marching 
upon Antioch to deprive Lysias of the rule. As 
soon as Lysias heard of the advance of his rival, he 
was forced to withdraw his troops from Jerusalem to 
lead them against this new enemy. He therefore 
persuaded the young king to make peace with the 
Judatans, and thus a treaty was concluded, the chief 
condition being that the Judseans should enjoy com- 
plete religious freedom, and that the fortress of the 
Temple should remain inviolate. Lysias agreed by 
oath to these conditions, but as soon as the gates of 
the fortress were opened, he ordered his soldiers to 
raze the walls and the towers to the ground. In no 
other way, however, did he seek to molest the 
Judaeans, for he neither destroyed nor desecrated 
the Sanctuary, and he soon commenced his march to 
Syria, where Philip had taken possession of the 
capital. Thus the numerous battles of the Has- 
monseans were crowned after all with success, and 
the Judseans were once more permitted to enjoy 
religious liberty, and were no longer compelled to 
sacrifice to Jupiter. 

But these wars had another fortunate result : the 
Syrian court withdrew its protection from the Hel- 
lenists, who were obliged to leave their fortress in 
the Acra. Menelaus, the usurping high-priest, the 
author of untold misery, was sacrificed by Lysias. 
The latter looked upon him as a firebrand, and had 
him executed in Bercea (Aleppo), after he had, for 
ten years, degraded his priestly diadem by the most 
execrable conduct. Jason, who had not, indeed, 
been so great a criminal as Menelaus, but who had 
done his best to disturb the peace of his country, 

CH. xxm. DEATH OF MENELAUS. 4-8 1 

had expired somewhat earlier in a foreign land. 
Persecuted by Antiochus Epiphanes, and driven by 
the Nabatsean prince, Aretas, out of his country, he 
had fled to Egypt, but finding no safety there, had 
wandered from town to town, until at last he had 
found a grave in Sparta. 

The truce between the Syrian court and the Judsean 
people making a return to the old order of things 
possible, it was necessary to elect a new high-priest as 
political chief, and who could be found worthier of 
that office than Judas Maccabseus? The great Has- 
monaean hero was most probably raised to that 
dignity by Antiochus Eupator, or by his guardian, 

During these days of peace, the warrior was able 
to lay aside his arms, the peasant to till his fields, and 
the scribe to devote himself to the study and the 
expounding of the Law ; the bleeding wounds of the 
commonwealth began at length to close and to heal. 
But peace was not to be of long duration. 

The excitement, resulting from years of civil war- 
fare, was not so easily allayed that a veil could be 
thrown over the past. There were still avowed and 
clandestine Hellenists, who hated Judas Maccabseu? 
and his devoted adherents, especially the Chasidim, 
on account of the restraint imposed upon them and 
the frustration of their efforts. They took advantage 
of a turn in the political tide to gratify their bitter 
animosity. Prince Demetrius, who had been debarred 
from the succession to the throne of Syria by his 
uncle Antiochus Epiphanes, and who had been left 
by that monarch as hostage in Rome, seized upon a 
favourable opportunity for quitting that city to depose 
the son of the usurper and his guardians. 

Lysias had foolishly and publicly maintained trained 
elephants and built ships of war, though the Roman 
Senate had interdicted both. Hereupon Rome 
sent one of its severest censors to Syria, the en- 
voy Cneius Octavius, not only to pronounce a 


severe reproof against the regent, but also to order 
the slaying of his elephants and the burning of his 
fleet. The orders were carried out without opposi- 
tion ; but Octavius met with his death, at the hand of 
a patriot, in a bath at Laodicea. Thus the authori- 
ties in Rome, displeased with the court of Antiochus, 
overlooked the escape of Demetrius. When this 
prince appeared as an invader in Syria, he gained 
over the people and the army to his cause, and put 
the king and the regent to death (162). The dis- 
contented Judaean party made use of this change of 
rulers to lodge their complaints against the Has- 
monseans. They were led by a priest of the name of 
Jakim, or in Greek Alcimus, the nephew of one of 
the teachers of the Law, Jose, son of Joezer, but 
himself an adherent of the innovators. Alcimus and 
his adherents, embittered at having been excluded 
from the Temple and the altar, repaired to the king 
of Syria it is said, with a golden introduction to 
whom they gave a gloomy picture of the state of 
Judaea, ascribing the misfortunes of the country to 
Judas and his followers. The accusation was levelled 
chiefly against Maccabaeus. So long as he lived, they 
said, the land would not obtain the blessings of 
peace. This accusation was pleasing to Demetrius, 
as it gave him an opportunity of asserting his power 
over a small, semi-independent province. Though 
he did not mean to walk in the footsteps of his kins- 
man, Antiochus Epiphanes, in the matter of religious 
persecutions, still, the fact of his being able to name 
Alcimus high-priest and political head of the Judaean 
commonwealth, would be a sign that he was master 
of the people. In order to prevent any opposition to 
his wishes, he sent Bacchides, a rude, inexorable 
warrior, with a large troop of Syrians, to Jerusalem. 
He came with peaceful assurances on his lips. But 
Judas and his brethren were not deceived. Con- 
vinced that their freedom and their lives were at 
stake, they quitted their beloved city, and retreated 
to the mountains. 


The unsuspicious Chasidim, however, allowed 
themselves to be deceived; they trusted Alcimus, 
because he was of the house of Aaron. A large 
assembly of distinguished scribes, possibly the whole 
body of the Synhedrin, repaired to Bacchides and 
Alcimus, assuring them of their friendliness and 
devotion, and begged them to take measures for 
restoring the quiet of their country. Alcimus, the 
new high-priest, solemnly swore that this was his 
intention; but as soon as he had taken possession of 
the city, he ordered sixty of the Chasidim to be slain, 
his uncle Jose being probably one of the victims. 
This outrage, coupled with his perjury, spread terror 
and mourning through the whole country. Again 
all hearts turned towards the Maccabees, and many 
of those who had joined the faction of Alcimus left 
him, and sought the Hasmonsean brothers at Modin. 

It hardly required a new outrage, perpetrated by 
Bacchides, to light the torch of civil war. The Syrian 
army had intercepted the march of a number of 
Judaeans who were leaving Alcimus in a body, had 
surrounded them near Jerusalem, at Beth Zachariah, 
and after slaying them, had thrown their dead bodies 
into a cistern. All who loved their freedom and 
their country now gathered round the Hasmonaeans. 
But Alcimus succeeded in attracting the ambitious, 
luxurious and law-breaking Judaeans. The nation 
was once more divided into two rival factions. At 
first the Hellenists were the stronger, as they were 
under the protection of foreign troops. Alcimus lost 
no time in marching through the land, in order to 
force the inhabitants to pay submission to Demetrius, 
and obedience to himself as high-priest. Meanwhile 
the army of the Maccabees was growing in strength 
and numbers. Judas was once more able to take 
the field against the Hellenists, and to punish the 
deserters, and he spread such terror that the adher- 
ents of Alcimus did not dare show themselves outside 
of Jerusalem. 

4^4 HISTORY OF THE JEWS. CH. xxiil. 

Alcimus founded his hopes of ultimate success on the 
devotion he showed to the Syrian court, more than on 
his popularity among the people. Therefore he hur- 
ried to Antiochia with fresh accusations against the 
Hasmonaeans. Demetrius thought he could easily 
cope with the rebellion of his Judaean subjects. He 
sent Nicanor, one of the warriors who had escaped 
with him from Rome, to Judaea, commanding him to 
treat the insurgents with the utmost harshness. This 
leader, too, considered it necessary to proceed gently 
at first, if only to gain time until the troops placed at 
his disposal arrived. It is said that having heard of 
the valour and heroism of the great Judaean com- 
mander, he desired to effect a reconciliation between 
Judas and the king, and to this end offered to send 
three confidential envoys to confer with Maccabaeus. 
1 he proposals of Posidonius, Theodotus, and Matta- 
thias being acceptable to Judas and his adherents, an 
interview took place between him and Nicanor. The 
latter was so enchanted with the Judaean hero, that 
he advised him after the conclusion of peace to take 
a wife, and bring an heroic race into the world. 
Alcimus, however, put an end to this good under- 
standing by informing the king that Nicanor was 
playing a false part, that he favoured his enemy 
Judas, and contemplated raising him to the office of 
high-priest. Hereupon the king sent strict orders to 
Nicanor to cease all negotiations, and to send Judas 
in chains to Antiochia. 

Meanwhile Judas, who had been cautioned not to 
trust Nicanor, had retreated to his mountain fast- 
nesses, whither he was followed by Nicanor and his 
army. A battle ensued at Caphar-Salama, on the 
confines of Samaria, where Nicanor's army suffered 
defeat, and was driven back to the fortress of the 
Acra. Enraged at this repulse, the Syrian renewed 
hostilities with untiring energy, his chief object being 
to make Judas prisoner. 

He repaired to the Mount of the Sanctuary, there 


to make known his orders that the hero should be 
delivered up to him. In vain did the Council come 
forth to meet him, assuring him of their devotion to 
the king, for whose welfare they offered up daily 
sacrifices ; he treated them all with rough contempt, 
and swore that he would burn the Temple down, if 
Judas were not delivered into his hands. 

In order to induce the Judseans to surrender him, 
Nicanor ordered that the most respected man in 
Jerusalem, Ragesh, or Razis, called by general con- 
sent " Father of the Judaeans," should be seized and 
kept as a hostage, but Ragesh, it is said, com- 
mitted suicide upon the approach of his intended 
gaoler. Nicanor was now determined to vanquish 
the Maccabees. He marched out from Jerusalem at 
the head of an immense army, pitching his camp at 
Bethhoron, whilst Judas, surrounded by 3,000 of his 
bravest followers, took up his post at Adarsa. Ju- 
daean valour was once more triumphant over the 
superior numbers of the Syrians. Nicanor fell on 
the battle-field, and his army fled in utter confusion. 
The inhabitants of the towns and villages poured 
forth in pursuit of the fugitive Syrians, and cut off 
their retreat to Gazara, so that not a single man 
reached that town. The battle of Adarsa (160) 
was of so decisive a character that its anniversary 
was afterwards celebrated under the name of the 
day of Nicanor. The head and one of the arms of 
the Syrian commander were severed from the body, 
and hung as trophies on the walls of Jerusalem. 
Judas and the Hasmonaeans were once more masters 
of Jerusalem, since Alcimus had withdrawn even 
before the battle. 

At this juncture, Judas, foreseeing that Demetrius 
would avenge the destruction of his army, and feeling 
the insecurity of his position, took a step of doubtful 
wisdom that of making overtures to the all-powerful 
State of Rome. He entrusted two of his countrymen 
with the important mission Eupolemus, the son of 


Johanan, of priestly family, and Jason, the son of 
Eleazar. They were both proficient in the Greek 
tongue. But hardly had they reached the end of 
their journey before Judas was obliged once more to 
draw his sword. 

Demetrius, upon hearing of Nicanor's defeat, had 
sent an immense army, commanded by the merciless 
Bacchides, to Judaea. This general marched through 
Galilee, killed all the Judaeans whom he met on his 
way, and in the spring-time of the year encamped 
before Jerusalem. Judas had again been obliged to 
leave the capital, because, stripped as she was of her 
walls, she afforded no shelter. He issued a procla- 
mation to the men and youths of Judaea to come 
forward and fight for their fatherland, their Law, and 
their freedom, but only 3,000 responded to the call. 
Led by Judas, these troops marched southward, en- 
camping near Eleasa, because the mountains in the 
north were no longer safe. Bacchides followed the 
Judaean army with 20,000 foot and 2,000 mounted 
soldiers, taking up his position at Birath, near Beth- 
lehem. Confronted with this vast host, the Judaean 
warriors lost heart. They declined to give battle for 
the moment, but insisted upon dispersing to await 
reinforcements. In vain did Judas employ all his 
eloquence to urge steadfastness upon them. The 
greater number deserted, leaving only eight hundred 
men to support Judas. Selecting the most valiant 
of this little band, he successfully attacked the right 
wing of Bacchides, and drove the enemy to the con- 
fines of Ashdod. But the small troop of Judaean 
soldiers left behind, unable to withstand the desperate 
onslaught of the left wing of the Syrian army, was 
routed, and when Judas returned from the pursuit 
he was obliged to resume battle with the latter. 
He and his band of picked men performed wonders 
of bravery. On both sides fell the dead and 
wounded, and the battle lasted from morning till 
evening. But the Judaean army became smaller and 


smaller, and its survivors were entirely surrounded 
by the enemy. At last even Judas Maccabaeus fell, 
sword in hand. The few remaining soldiers fled 
from the battle-field, the Maccabsean brothers being 
fortunate enough to save the body of their heroic 
commander from disgrace. 

The defeat at Eleasa or Birath (160) seemed to 
have rendered ineffectual all the previous Jewish vic- 
tories. The lion-hearted troop of Hasmonaeans were 
dispersed. Alcimus once more took possession of 
the Temple and the Holy City, and could gloat over 
his antagonists. 

But the long years of Maccabsean warfare had not 
been in vain. They had roused the nation from its 
torpor, and had rejuvenated it. The blood of martyrs, 
it is said, heals wounds. In truth, all old wounds 
were healed by this free-will sacrifice of so many 
lives. So far as the world at large was concerned; 
the stigma that had been fastened upon the Judaean 
name had vanished. The contemptuous Greeks, who 
had felt the force of Judas's arm, no longer derided 
the Judaean soldiers, and the Judaeans were no longer 
required to prove their equality with the Greeks by 
joining in the Olympian games. The Judaeans them- 
selves had learnt to know their own prowess and 
their mission ; they had proved themselves to be 
God's people, destined to guard His law and His 
teaching, and capable of defending those precious 
gifts. Self-devotion, taught by the prophet Elijah to 
a few disciples, and inculcated by the second Isaiah 
with fiery eloquence, had become, through the action 
of the Maccabaean warriors and martyrs, the recog- 
nised duty of the whole nation. 

Judas Maccabaeus had breathed out his heroic soul 
on the battle-field of Eleasa. The whole nation 
mourned for him, and justly, for it had become 
orphaned by his loss. 

The sublime enthusiasm that had led to the valiant 
deeds of the Maccabees, that had moved singers to 


extol the Lord "in new songs," could not be of 
lasting duration. It was the result of a noble excite- 
ment, and a reaction had to follow. An entire nation, 
bred to farming and cattle-breeding, cannot continue 
in arms from year's end to year's end. Besides, 
the principal cause which had prompted a war- 
like rising had ceased to exist. It was no longer 
demanded of them to deny the God of Israel, or 
to sacrifice to Jupiter. One of the terms of the 
truce that Judas Maccabseus had concluded with the 
young king Antiochus Eupator, or with his general- 
guardian Lysias, was the religious freedom of the 
Judaeans. Demetrius I. did not interfere with this 
concession; in the Temple at Jerusalem, the sacrifices 
were offered up according to law, and although the 
high-priest, Jakim or Alcimus, was not a favourite of 
the people, yet, unlike his predecessor Menelaus, he 
came of priestly descent. 

It is true, the party of the Hellenists still held the 
fortress Acra in Jerusalem, whence they menaced the 
faithful with the destruction of their city and the 
violation of their Temple. The conqueror, Bacchides, 
after the death of Judas, had made them masters of 
the land, and they were resolved to use their authority 
in order to bring about the downfall of the pious 
Judaeans. But such proceedings, well as they may 
be adapted to rouse noble natures to active measures, 
do not seem important enough to warrant a short- 
sighted, and, above all things, peace-loving people to 
take any decided steps against their enemy, and to 
hazard their own safety and that of their families, 
unless a voice of authority calls upon them to act. 

But after the death of Judas Maccabaeus there was 
no one left to claim such authority. 

Although the Hasmonoean brothers were beloved 
by the people, they had not the power to summon 
the whole nation to their standard, and they were 
looked upon only as leaders of a faction. 

In fact, after the death of Judas one could discern 


the beginnings of three distinct parties amongst the 
people ; party spirit, always a symptom of national 
vitality, had, as far as Judaea was concerned, its 
origin in the Maccabaean wars. First, there were 
the pious Chasidim, or Assidaeans, as they are more 
generally called. These obeyed not only the Law, 
but the additional enactments promulgated by Ezra 
and the Supreme Council. Then came their per- 
sistent antagonists, the Hellenists, who, in violent 
contrast to the former, scorned the earnest Judaean 
life, and sought to introduce Greek customs. These 
were despised of the people, who called them "Trai- 
tors to the Covenant." In spite of this they num- 
bered among their adherents Temple officials, priests, 
and the old and distinguished family of Odura, and 
the sons of Phasiron. Lastly, there were the Has- 
monaeans, who had raised themselves to great power 
in a short time, and whose leaders were the three 
remaining sons of Mattathias, Jonathan, Simeon and 
Johanan. The Hasmonaeans resembled the Assi- 
daeans in their love for Judaism and the Sanctuary, 
but they differed from them in their wider view, in 
their practical judgment, and in their manly energy, 
which could not be deterred from its purpose by any 
adverse circumstances. They were not content with 
having averted the violation of the Sanctuary, or 
with having obtained the recognition of their religious 
liberty ; but they longed to rid themselves of the 
causes which had brought misfortune on their country. 
A Psalmist describes them most accurately in these 
words: "The praise of God is in their mouth, and a 
two-edged sword in their hands." They could not 
bear to have the Judaeans remain under the hateful 
yoke of the Greeks, or to know that Judaism de- 
pended for its very existence upon the whim of a 
Syrian despot, or the intrigues of a treacherous party. 
They were not content with mere religious freedom ; 
they wished to establish political independence. But 
the Hasmonseans feared that they lacked the strength 


to effect this purpose. They therefore determined to 
rely upon extraneous aid, and for this purpose they 
desired to connect themselves with the Roman gov- 
ernment and, it appears, also with the Parthians, who 
had freed themselves from Syrian rule. But it was 
this worldly policy that incensed the Assidseans. 
They put their trust in God alone, and could imagine 
warfare possible only if conducted according to Biblical 
precedent ; they believed that God would confound 
the enemy in a miraculous way, and, in their opinion, 
to seek foreign help was to cast a doubt upon the 
omnipotence of God. " It is better to trust in the 
Lord than to confide in man," they quoted, "it is 
better to trust in the Lord than to confide in princes." 
This discontent, it may be surmised, was the cause of 
the separation of the Assidseans from the Has- 
monacans, thereby reducing the number of the Macca- 
bsean warriors. This circumstance may have brought 
about the death of Judas. 

Of these three parties, the Hasmonseans alone had 
a chance of being ultimately the leaders of the nation. 
The Hellenists had destroyed their prospects by dis- 
regarding entirely the observances or prejudices of 
the people ; whilst the Assidaeans entertained views 
of an intensely narrow character, and were too fond 
of repose to disturb it by seeking to remedy the state 
of anarchy in which Judaea was plunged. 

Confusion was indeed rampant at that time. Wher- 
ever Hellenists and Hasmonaeans met, a disgraceful 
conflict was the result ; no voice of authority forbade 
such practices; there was not even a court of justice. 
Famine did but aggravate this miserable state of 
things. "There was great affliction in Israel, the like 
whereof had not been seen since a prophet had been 
among them." 

In their anguish the unfortunate people turned to 
Jonathan Haphus, hoping that he would humiliate 
the Hellenists, and restore peace to the country. But 
Jonathan did not possess the warlike energy of his 


brother Judas, nor was he supported by the whole 
nation. He was more of a politician than a general. 
Too weak to attack the army that Bacchides had 
quartered in Judaea, he was merely able to take 
measures of defence. Threatened by the Syrian 
host, the Hasmonaeans entrenched themselves in the 
woodland country on the shores of the Jordan ; but, 
conscious of their weakness, they sent their wives 
and children to join the friendly Nabataeans. On the 
way, however, this peaceful troop was suddenly 
attacked by a warlike tribe, that of Bene Amri, from 
the city of Madaba, and with their leader, the Has- 
monaean Johanan, was put to the sword a deed of 
infamy that was subsequently avenged by Jonathan. 

But even in their hiding-places, in the valley of the 
Jordan, the Hasmonaeans found no rest. Bacchides 
sought them out, attacked them on the Sabbath-day, 
when indeed they were not forbidden to defend them- 
selves, but when they were too much hampered by 
legal minutiae to join battle with full force, and com- 
pelled them to swim the river, and find safety on the 
opposite side. The whole country was now at the 
mercy of the enemy. Bacchides restored the fortresses, 
reinforced the strong places, the Acra, Bethzur and 
Gazara, storing them with provisions and weapons. 
He enforced the loyalty of the people by seizing the 
children of the most distinguished families, and placing 
them as hostages in the Acra. Thus, in the space 
of one year (160-159), Bacchides succeeded in en- 
tirely putting down all armed opposition to the Syrian 
rule, a feat which the previous Syrian commanders 
had not been able to accomplish in six years. 

The strong arm of the Maccabaean hero was sorely 
missed. Had King Demetrius wished to make any 
important changes in the religious condition of the 
Judaeans, he could not have chosen a more oppor- 
tune moment; the strength of the people was broken, 
and their leaders were banished from the scene of 
action. But the successor of Antiochus Epiphanes, 


sunk in a life of debauchery, was content with having 
assured himself of the sovereignty over Judaea, and 
of the annual payment of the tribute-money. The 
Syrian court, even after the death of Alcimus, troubled 
itself but little, if at all, about the religion of the 
Judaeans. Although disliked by the people, the high- 
priest Alcimus had not belonged to the extreme 
Hellenists. He was merely an ambitious man w r ho 
always worshipped the rising power. An offence 
with which he was reproached appears, on careful 
examination, hardly to have been a sin against the 
religion of the Judaeans. It appears that between the 
inner and outer courts of the Temple there was a sort 
of wooden screen, of lattice-work, called " Soreg." 
This screen, the work of the prophets, as it was 
called, was the boundary, beyond which no heathen, 
nor any one who had become unclean by contact 
with a corpse might pass. But Alcimus gave orders 
for the destruction of this partition, probably with 
the intention of admitting the heathen within the 
sacred precincts. The pious Judaeans were so highly 
incensed at this, that when Alcimus was seized, 
directly after this command, with paralysis of speech 
and of limbs, from which he never recovered, they 
attributed his fatal illness to the wrath of Heaven. 

After the death of Alcimus, the Syrian court left 
the office of high-priest unfilled, evidently with the 
intention of removing even this semblance of Judaean 
independence. For seven years the Temple had no 
high-priest, and the country, no political head. Prob- 
ably the priestly functions were carried on by a 
substitute for the high-priest, under the name of 
Sagan. We hear nothing of further Syrian interfer- 
ence. Bacchides left the country, and Judaea was at 
peace for two years (159-157). 

Jonathan and Simon, the leaders of the Has- 
monseans, made use of this pause to strengthen them- 
selves, and to arm their followers. They fortified the 
oasis of Bethhagla, in the desert of Jericho, within the 


grateful shade of a wood and near a spring with an 
ample supply of sweet and limpid water. The river 
Jordan protected their rear. 

In the conduct of this war Jonathan enjoyed no 
other authority than that of a Bedouin chief who 
extorts an armistice from the governing power; but 
as the sympathy of the people went with him, and 
as he carried his sword in a holy cause, he attained 
greater power Without doubt the harm he did 
the Hellenists was considerable, for we hear of 
their carrying fresh complaints to the Syrian court. 
But as Demetrius was hopelessly indifferent, and as 
Bacchides was weary of carrying on a guerilla war- 
fare at a great disadvantage, they remained inactive, 
whilst the Hellenists proposed to fall treacherously 
upon Jonathan and Simon, and to deliver them 
as prisoners to the Syrians. An ambush was laid 
for the two commanders, but the conspiracy was re- 
vealed, and the Maccabaeans were able to take meas- 
ures of defence upon this occasion. Fifty Hellenists 
were seized and executed. Bacchides, who had 
counted upon the rapid success of the conspiracy, 
felt himself involved in a new war, and proceeded 
to besiege the Hasmonaeans in their fortress of Beth- 
hagla. But the latter had attracted a number of 
followers, large enough to enable them to divide their 
forces. Jonathan and his followers defended the 
fortress, whilst Simon with his division, sallying out 
by an unguarded road, attacked the Syrians in the 
rear, and after defeating the Hellenists, burnt the 
siege-machines of the enemy. Threatened on both 
sides, Bacchides was forced, not without a consider- 
able loss of soldiers, to raise the siege of Bethhagla, 
and as an outlet for his rage executed many of the 
Hellenists in his army. This was an appropriate 
moment for Jonathan to demand a truce, which was 
granted. The condition agreed upon was that Jona- 
than, after giving hostages as pledges of peace, might 
return to Judaea unmolested, but should not be per- 


mitted to dwell in Jerusalem. Prisoners were ex- 
changed, and Bacchides marched out of the land, 
leaving his allies, the Hellenists, unprotected. 

Jonathan took up his position in the fortress of 
Michmash, where Saul had once fixed his head- 
quarters. He was tacitly acknowledged as the head 
of the Judaean people, and treated its enemies with 
relentless severity. For nearly four years "the sword 
rested in Israel." How this undecided state of things 
would finally have ended it is difficult to say, but it is 
certain that, without the aid of an unexpected piece 
of good fortune, the dream of the Hasmonaeans could 
never have been realised. 

A revolution in the Syrian kingdom effected a 
happy change in the fate of Judaea, and increased the 
power of Jonathan and the nation. 

An obscure youth of Smyrna, Alexander Balas, 
was the cause of this revolution. He happened to 
bear an extraordinary likeness to the late king of 
Syria, Antiochus Eupator. This resemblance prompt- 
ed Attalus, king of Pergamum, to induce Alexander 
to play the part of pretender to the Syrian throne. 
Alexander, richly supplied by Attalus with money 
and troops, was recognised by the Roman Senate as 
heir to the kingdom of Syria. Demetrius, roused 
from his indolence, began to look about him for allies. 
Above all he was anxious to win Jonathan over to 
his side. This led him to write a flattering epistle 
to the Hasmonaean commander, in which he called 
him his ally, and authorised him to raise troops and 
procure weapons. The Judaean hostages were at 
once to be set free. 

Jonathan did not neglect so favourable an oppor- 
tunity. He hurried to Jerusalem, repaired the walls, 
and fortified the city. The Hellenists sought refuge 
in the fortress of Bethzur. But Alexander, who was 
also in want of help, was equally eager for Jonathan's 
alliance, and succeeded in gaining it. He nominated 
Jonathan high-priest, sent him a robe of purple and a 


crown of gold, thus declaring him tributary prince of 
the Syrian kingdom and friend of its monarch. 

Jonathan donned his priestly garment, and officiat- 
ed for the first time as high-priest in the Temple upon 
the Feast of Tabernacles (152) ; he was the first of 
the Hasmonaeans to gain so great a distinction. 

Thus Judaea, thanks to the valour and self-sacrifice 
of a handful of warriors, was raised, after a war of 
nearly twenty years, from the brink of destruction to 
an influential position. The sufferer's part which she 
had played for so long was now to be exchanged for 
one active and heroic. 

Jonathan greatly contributed to the growing power 
of the nation during his rule (152 144). He justly 
divined which side he should espouse in the struggle 
for the Syrian crown. He allied himself to Alex- 
ander, although Demetrius, like all who have nothing 
left to lose, was profuse in the most liberal offers. 
Ignoring the high-priest, Demetrius wrote " to the 
Judaean people," promising to relieve them from 
most of their taxes and imposts, to restore to their 
jurisdiction three districts that had been added to 
Samaria, to recognise Jerusalem as an asylum, and 
even to give up the important Acra. He declared 
that he would defray the expenses for conducting 
divine service in the Temple out of the royal treasury, 
reserving for that purpose the revenues of -the town 
of Ptolemais. The Judaean army was to be levied at 
Syrian cost, promotions and rewards were to be given 
according to Syrian custom, and the forces consisting 
of 30,000 men were naturally to serve as his allies. 
Even the Judaeans settled in the Syrian provinces 
were, in consideration of this alliance, to be pro- 
tected from the oppression of their neighbours, and 
were to be exempt, on all Sabbaths and festivals, and 
for three days before and after the festivals, from 
duties in any court of justice. 

But nothing could bribe the Judaean people to 
desert Jonathan ; they were not blinded by these 


brilliant prospects, and their leader was too well ac- 
quainted with the character of Demetrius to give heed 
to his promises. He allied himself with Alexander, 
aided him in crushing his rival, and never had cause 
to regret the step that he had taken. The usurper 
loaded Jonathan with marks of favour, and plainly 
showed his gratitude to the Maccabsean leader. When 
he entered the city of Ptolemais, to receive the daughter 
of the Egyptian monarch, Ptolemy VI. Philopator, as 
his bride, he invited Jonathan to meet him, and the 
two kings entertained the Judaean warrior as their 

During the reign of Alexander Balas (152-146) 
Judaea recovered from the cruel blows which despot- 
ism and treachery had dealt her, and was soon able to 
call 10,000 men into the field. Jonathan, on his side, 
repaid Alexander with unalterable loyalty. For 
when Demetrius II., the son of Demetrius I., con- 
tested, as rightful heir to the throne, the sovereignty 
of Syria, Jonathan upheld Alexander's cause most 
strenuously, although that monarch was deserted by 
Egypt and Rome. 

The Maccabaean chieftain began by opposing the 
advance of Demetrius's general Apollonius on the 
shores of the Mediterranean. He besieged and took 
the fortress of the seaport town of Joppa, destroyed 
the old Philistine city of Ashdod, which had declared 
for Apollonius, and burnt the Temple of the god 
Dagon. As a reward for his services, Jonathan re- 
ceived from Alexander the city of Ekron, with the 
surrounding country, which from that time was incor- 
porated with Judaea (147). 

The Syrian people were now divided in their alle- 
giance, some of them acknowledging the rightful 
king Demetrius II., others clinging to the house of 
the usurper Alexander, even after the latter had been 
treacherously slain. In this general confusion Jona- 
than was able to besiege the Acra, the stronghold of 
the Hellenists. 


The besieged turned for help to the Syrian king, 
and Demetrius II., eager to overthrow the powerful 
Maccabsean, listened to their appeal, marched to their 
rescue, and commanded Jonathan to meet him at 
Ptolemais. But when Jonathan obeyed and came 
with rich presents, Demetrius thought that his alliance 
might be of use to himself, and not only did he aban- 
don his march upon the Acra, but he confirmed Jona- 
than in his priestly office. 

Jonathan, well aware that the king was in sore 
need of money, offered him 300 talents in exchange 
for a few districts of land, and for the promise of 
exempting the Judseans from all taxation. The 
compact was made, written, and placed for security 
in the Temple ; but Demetrius, in spite of his solemn 
protestation, soon regretted having freed the Judae- 
ans from their imposts. No Syrian monarch was ever 
known to be loyal to his word, or to refrain from re- 
calling favours granted in some pressing moment of 
danger. The Judsean army meanwhile was soon to 
enjoy the unexpected triumph of inflicting the same 
degradation upon the Syrian capital which the Syrians 
had so often inflicted upon Jerusalem. Demetrius 
had excited the discontent of his people to such a 
degree that they actually besieged him in his own 
palace at Antioch, and his troops, who were clamour- 
ing for pay, refused to aid in his deliverance. Thus 
he felt himself in the unpleasant position of being 
compelled to seek the help of Jonathan's Judsean 
troops. The 3000 men sent by the high-priest de- 
stroyed a portion of the Syrian capital by fire, and 
forced the inhabitants and the rebellious soldiers to 
release their king and sue for pardon. But no sooner 
was Demetrius at liberty than he treated his deliverer 
with the basest ingratitude. Jonathan, therefore, re- 
fused to come to his rescue, when a general of Alex- 
ander Balas, Diodotus Tryphon by name, conspired 
against him, attempting to place Antiochus VI., the 
young son of Alexander Balas, on the throne of Syria. 


Demetrius was forced to flee from his capital. Em- 
bittered at the faithlessness of the Syrian monarch, 
and grateful to the memory of Alexander, Jonathan 
espoused the cause of the young king and his regent 
Tryphon. The latter confirmed him in his priestly 
office, and permitted him to wear the gold clasp, 
the distinguishing mark of an independent prince. 
Simon, his brother, was made commander of the 
Syrian forces on the shores of the Mediterranean, 
from the ladder of Tyre to the Egyptian confines. 

Bravely did the Hasmonaean brothers fight for 
Antiochus, upon the triumph of whose cause the free- 
dom of the Judaeans depended. Victory and defeat 
succeeded each other; but at last the Hasmonaeans 
remained victorious ; they besieged and took several 
towns on the coast, and finally entered Damascus. 
They drove the Hellenists out of Bethzur, and garri- 
soned it. But their greatest desire was to make 
Jerusalem impregnable. They increased the height 
of the walls, extending them eastward to the vale of 
Kidron, thus creating a defence for the Holy Mount; 
they erected a rampart in the middle of the city, 
facing the Acra, to keep out the Hellenists, and they 
filled up the moat " Chaphenatha," which divided the 
Holy Mount from the city, and which was but par- 
tially bridged over, thus practically bringing the Tem- 
ple closer to the town. 

Jonathan would not attempt the siege of the Acra, 
partly because he might have given umbrage to his 
Syrian allies, and partly because he did not dare 
concentrate all his forces at one point so long as the 
generals of the fallen Demetrius maintained a threat- 
ening attitude. At that time Judaea could boast of 
an army 40,000 strong (144-143). 

Subsequent events showed only too plainly that 
the prudence evinced by the Hasmonaeans in fortify- 
ing the country, and maintaining a powerful army at 
the outset of this campaign had not been superfluous. 
As soon as the rebellious general, Diodotus Tryphon, 


had possessed himself of the supreme power in 
Syria, he determined to overthrow the puppet king 
Antiochus, and to place the crown upon his own 
head. But the greatest hindrance to the attain- 
ment of these ends was Jonathan himself, who, 
true to the memory of Alexander, was the devoted 
champion of the rights of Antiochus, and who, 
moreover, was in possession of a great part of the 
sea-coast. Tryphon was well aware that Jonathan 
would not become party to his treachery, so he 
determined to rid himself of the high-priest, and thus 
weaken the followers of the young king. But a 
course of open violence being impossible, he resorted 
to craft, and actually succeeded in outwitting the 
wariest of all the Hasmonaeans, and getting him into 
his power. Upon the news of Tryphon's entry into 
Scythopolis, at the head of a powerful army, Jona- 
than hurried to oppose him with 40,000 picked war- 
riors. To his amazement he was most courteously 
received by the Syrian commander, and loaded with 
presents. Entirely duped by so flattering a reception, 
he was persuaded by Tryphon to dismiss the greater 
number of his troops, and to follow his host into the 
fortified seaport city of Acco (Ptolemais), which Try- 
phon promised to surrender to him. Of the 3,000 
soldiers remaining with Jonathan, 2,000 were now sent 
to Galilee, 1,000 alone following their chief. But 
hardly had they passed the gates of the fortress be- 
fore Jonathan was seized, and made prisoner by the 
treacherous Tryphon, whilst the Syrian garrison fell 
upon his men, and massacred them. After the accom- 
plishment of this infamous deed, the troops rushed 
out in pursuit of the Judaean soldiers, who were sta- 
tioned in the plain of Jezreel and in Galilee. But the 
Judaeans had already heard of the fate that had be- 
fallen their brethren, and they turnedand gave battle 
to the Syrians, putting them to flight. With the re- 
port of Jonathan's death they entered Jerusalem, and 
great was the consternation of their sorrow-stricken 


brethren. They believed that their beloved Jonathan 
had fallen, like his thousand followers at Acco, a vic- 
tim to the faithless commander. Syrian domination, 
with itsusual terrible consequences, seemed impending. 
The Hellenists were suspected of being implicated in 
these disastrous events, and, in fact, there was a secret 
understanding between Tryphon and the remnant of 
the Hellenists ; the Syrian commander appears to 
have promised them aid from without, while they were 
to assist him from within, should the Judaean capital 
be besieged. But Simon Tharsi, the last of the Has- 
monseans, successfully averted this twofold danger. 
In spite of his advanced age, he was a man of 
lofty enthusiasm and singular heroism, so that he 
was able to rouse the people from despair to hope. 
When he exclaimed to the multitude assembled in 
the outer court of the Temple, " I am no better than 
my brothers who died for the Sanctuary and liberty," 
the Judseans replied with one voice : " Be our leader, 
like Judas and Jonathan, your brothers." Placed at 
the head of the nation by the people themselves, 
Simon was determined to secure Jerusalem from a 
sudden attack on the part of the Hellenists, and at the 
same time to block Tryphon's entry into Judaea. He 
sent a Judaean contingent, under the leadership of 
Jonathan ben Absalom, to Joppa, in order to prevent 
the landing of the Syrian army, whilst he assembled 
his forces at Adida. 

Tryphon, accompanied by his prisoner Jonathan, 
had already passed out of Acco with the intention of 
falling upon Judaea, which, he thought, would be para- 
lysed by his act of treachery. He was determined, 
moreover, to frighten the Judaeans into subjection 
by threatening to assassinate their high-priest. But 
upon hearing, to his amazement, that all Judaea was 
in arms, and that Simon was the leader of the people, 
he began artfully to enter into negotiations with the 
enemy. He pretended to have made Jonathan pris- 
oner only for the purpose of securing one hundred 


talents of tribute-money which the Judaeans had form- 
erly paid to Syria, and promised that if this indemnity 
were forthcoming', and Jonathan's two sons were 
delivered up as hostages, he would release his pris- 
oner. Simon was in no way deceived by this artifice 
of Tryphon, but trembling to incur the reproach of 
having caused his brother's death, he paid the tribute- 
money, and delivered up the hostages. Tryphon, 
however, had no intention of making peace with the 
Judaeans ; on the contrary, he was at that very moment 
taking a circuitous road to Jerusalem, not daring to 
run the risk of meeting the Judaean forces in the open 
field. He might have reached the capital in safety, 
had not a heavy snowfall, most unusual in that hot 
climate, made the mountain roads of Judaea impass- 
able, and forced him into the trans-Jordanic country. 

Enraged at this defeat of his plans, he caused 
Jonathan to be executed at Bascama (143). The 
remains of the great Maccabaean high-priest and 
commander were ultimately recovered, and buried by 
Simon and the whole people at Modin, in the tomb 
of the Hasmonaeans. Thus ended the fourth of the 
Hasmonaean brothers. He achieved more than his 
predecessors had done, and more than his successors 
could do ; for he raised the Judaean republic from the 
very lowest depths to an eminence whence, if not 
entirely abandoned by fortune, it could easily rise 
higher. It is true that Judas Maccabaeus had per- 
formed more numerous deeds of valour, and had 
gained a more brilliant military renown than Jona- 
than, but the younger brother had given his people 
power and importance, and by virtue of his priestly 
office had conferred lasting distinction upon his family. 

After the death of Judas, the Judaean nation was 
as near dissolution as it had been in the days of the 
sanguinary reign of Antiochus; but after Jonathan's 
death, there existed the fundamental conditions upon 
which a State can be based. 

If we may compare Judas Maccabaeus to the Judges 


of the Biblical age, then we may liken Jonathan to 
King Saul, who was able to avert ruin and attain 
safety. As Saul, through the kingly crown, united 
the dispersed tribes, and moulded them into a pow- 
erful people, so Jonathan, by his mitre, united the 
divided factions, and made of them a strong and self- 
reliant nation. And although both were deeply 
mourned by the people, neither King Saul's death 
nor that of the high-priest Jonathan put an end to 
the nation's unity, because in neither of these parallel 
cases did the unity of Judaea rest upon one individual, 
but upon the whole nation, conscious of its resources. 
As Saul found a worthy successor in his son-in-law 
David, so did Jonathan in his brother Simon. 

Of Jonathan's descendants, only one daughter is 
mentioned. She was married to Mattathias ben 
Simon Psellus, and became the ancestress of the 
historian Flavius Josephus. 

During the period in which the Judaean State was 
developing through political trials, the Jewish religion 
was attaining, on another theatre, the sovereign posi- 
tion whence it influenced the civilisation of the whole 
world. Politically, Judaism was being matured in 
Judaea, intellectually, in Egypt. 




The Judsean Colonies in Egypt and Cyrene Internal Affairs of the 
Alexandrian Community King Philometor favours the Judaeans 
Onias and Dositheus The Temple of Onias Translation of 
the Pentateuch into Greek Struggle between the Judaeans and 
Samaritans in Alexandria Affairs in Judaea Independence of 
Judaea Simon's League with the Romans Overthrow of the 
Acra and of the Hellenists Simon's Coinage Quarrel between 
Simon and the Syrian King Invasion by Cendebaeus Assassi- 
nation of Simon. 

160 135 B. c. E. 

THE magic land of the Nile, once the school of suf- 
fering of the children of Israel and the cradle of Israel's 
religion, became at this period the school of wisdom 
for the Judsean nation. 

The settlement of the Judseans in Egypt was as 
much encouraged by the Greek rulers of that country 
as it had been in former ages by the Pharaohs. They 
spread over the entire district between the Lybian 
desert in the north and the confines of Ethiopia in 
the south. They increased as rapidly as they had 
done in the days of their forefathers, and they num- 
bered one million of souls at the expiration of a cen- 
tury from their first arrival in their adopted country. 

In Egypt and Cyrene the Judaeans enjoyed rights 
similar to those of the Greek colonists. They were so 
proud of this equality that they watched over their 
privileges with a jealous eye. It is impossible to 
say from whom they originally held them, whether 
from Alexander or his successors. The Judeean 
colony in Egypt began to play an active part at the 
time when the Egyptian and Syrian courts were hos- 
tile to each other, when both were eager for the 
possession of Judsea, and each was, therefore, anxious 


to secure the alliance of the Judaeans. But the 
Egyptian Judaeans had always been faithful adher- 
ents of the Ptolemaic royal house, and Philometor, 
the sixth prince of that dynasty, had cordially received 
the numerous fugitives who had fled from Judaea 
during the persecutions of Antiochus. 

Conspicuous amongst those emigrants were sev- 
eral Judaeans of distinguished families, as well as the 
son of the high-priest Onias. They were treated 
with respect by the Egyptian rulers, and were able, at 
a later date, to give proof of their intelligence and 
their learning. Political prudence demanded the 
friendliest reception of the Judaean malcontents, in 
order to make sure of their undivided support in the 
re-conquest of Judaea from Syria. Neither Egypt 
nor Syria, however, could possibly have divined 
that the opposition of the Judaean patriots to the 
Syrian armies would lead to the independence of 

The Judaeans were principally concentrated in 
Alexandria, second only to Rome in political import- 
ance and commerce, and to Athens in love of art and 
knowledge. Of the five divisions or districts of Alex- 
andria, which were designated by the first letters of 
the Greek alphabet, the Judaeans occupied nearly the 
whole of two ; the district of the Delta, lying upon 
the sea-coast, had indeed become an exclusively 
Judaean colony, and its commanding position deter- 
mined the occupation of its inhabitants. The cargoes 
of grain that Rome imported for her legions from 
the rich plains of Egypt were undoubtedly laden 
upon Judaean ships, and taken into the market by 
Judaean merchants. They carried the wealth of 
Egyptian harvests to less fertile countries, as Joseph, 
their ancestor, had done before them. Prosperity and 
refinement were the fruits of their enterprise. But 
commerce was not monopolised by the Judaeans, nor 
was it their only pursuit. Their eagerness to learn 
and their aptitude enabled them to acquire the skill 


of the Greeks, and to succeed in the manufacture of 
delicate fabrics. Judsean artisans and skilled work- 
men were leagued in a kind of guild, and when labour 
was required in the Temple of Jerusalem, the Alexan- 
drian-Judaean community supplied the master-hands. 
Moreover, the Alexandrian Judaeans applied them- 
selves to the Grecian arts of war and of statecraft. 
They acquired the melodious Greek tongue, and made 
a profound study of Greek learning, many of them 
reading and understanding Homer and Plato as easily 
as the books of Moses and the writings of King 

Prosperity, worthy pursuits, and culture inspired 
the Alexandrian Judaeans with dignity and self-respect, 
and in this they may be compared with their descend- 
ants in Spain of a much later date. 

The Alexandrian community was looked upon as 
the centre of the Judsean colony in Egypt, and other 
Judaean colonies, and even Judaea herself, were glad 
to lean at times upon this firm pillar of Judaism. 
Houses of prayer, bearing the name Proseuche, were 
established in all parts of the city. Amongst them 
was the principal synagogue, distinguished by its 
graceful architecture and its magnificent interior. 
These houses of prayer were at the same time schools 
of learning, where the most accomplished student of 
the Law would stand up on Sabbaths and festival days 
to expound that portion of the Pentateuch that had 
just been read to the congregation. 

But the most brilliant ornaments of the Alexandrian- 
Judaean world were the distinguished fugitives who 
arrived in Alexandria during the Syrian persecutions. 
The most illustrious of these was Onias IV., the 
youngest son of the last legitimate high-priest of 
the line of Joshua ben Jozadak. 

After his father had been treacherously murdered, 
on account of his determined antagonism to the Hel- 
lenists and his support of Hyrcanus, young Onias 
fled for safety to Egypt. There he was kindly 



received by the gentle King Philometor, because 
he represented a party which looked upon him as the 
rightful successor to the priestly dignity, and the 
sixth Ptolemy, hoping ultimately to wrest Ccelesyria 
and Judaea from Syrian rule, believed that he might 
eventually rely upon the support of this party. 

As soon as Onias, who had now reached man's 
estate, heard that the wicked high-priest, Menelaus, 
had been slain by order of the Syrian court, and that 
Prince Demetrius had escaped from Rome, and had 
conquered Syria, he flattered himself that he would 
be allowed to return as high-priest to Judaea. His 
protector, the king Philometor, had meanwhile be- 
come an ally of Demetrius, and had probably put in 
a good word for his favourite. But when Alcimus 
was chosen high-priest, and was supported by an 
armed force, even against the Hasmonaeans, Onias 
gave up all hope of receiving the priestly inheri- 
tance of his father, and took up his permanent abode 
in Egypt. 

Onias seems to have been accompanied by a man of 
great distinction, Dositheusby name, and the two men 
played an influential part during the reign of'Philo- 
metor. They were given the opportunity of dis- 
tinguishing themselves during the disorders arising 
from the rivalry of the two royal brothers, the gentle 
Philometor and the violent Euergetes, who was a 
monster in body and in mind, and who was called, on 
account of his enormous size, "Fat-paunch " (Physcon), 
and on account of his diabolical wickedness, " Kaker- 

The two brothers, with their sister Cleopatra, who 
was the wife of her elder brother, claimed the 
throne at a period when Egypt and Syria happened 
to be at war with each other. But Physcon, the 
younger brother, had seized the throne for him- 
self, supplanting the elder one, who fled as a sup- 
plicant to Rome. The Roman Senate acknowledged 
the rights of Philometor, but always greedy for an 


extension of power, resolved to make use of this 
opportunity to weaken Egypt. It decreed, therefore, 
that the north-western province of Gyrene should be 
separated from the Egyptian kingdom, and placed 
under the rule of Physcon. But this prince, dissatis- 
fied with his small territory, repeatedly conspired 
against Philometor, and the two brothers were soon 
openly at variance. Philometor dared defy Rome, 
which had taken Physcon's part ; but unfortunately his 
soldiers were unreliable ; for the Alexandrian-Greek 
population, besides having the usual faults of the 
Greeks, were remarkable for faithlessness and caprice. 
Still more did Philometor lack commanders. In this 
hour of emergency he entrusted the Judasan emi- 
grants, Onias and Dositheus, with the command of 
the campaign against his brother. The entire Jewish- 
Egyptian population stood by Philometor. The ability 
of the two Judsean leaders enabled him to weaken 
Physcon effectually. From that day Onias and Dosi- 
theus were held in great favour by Philometor, and 
they remained commanders of the entire army. 

Onias was recognised by the Judseans as head, or 
prince of the race (Ethnarch). He may have been 
unanimously elected to that office by his countrymen, 
and confirmed in it out of gratitude by the king, or 
Philometor may have taken the initiative, and raised 
him to this dignity. 

In time this office became a very important one. 
It was the duty of the ethnarch to control all the 
affairs of the community, to exercise the duties of a 
judge, and to protect the integrity of contracts. He 
represented his people at court. The office of eth- 
narch, which Onias was the first to hold, offered 
too many privileges to the Egyptian Judseans for them 
to have objected to it. 

As a result, they were now in the fortunate posi- 
tion of having a leader of royal dignity who was able 
to mould them into one strong body. Their strength 
was to be enhanced by a new creation amongst them. 


In spite of the distinction which Onias enjoyed at the 
court of Philometor, and amongst his own race, he 
could not forget that, on account of the events that 
had taken place in Judaea, he had lost his rightful 
office of high-priest. 

During the uncertain state of things in his own 
country, when Alcimus was raised above the rightful 
incumbents of the priesthood, and after his death, when 
this dignity seemed extinct, Onias conceived the idea 
of building a Temple in Egypt that should take the 
place of the violated sanctuary in Jerusalem, and of 
which he would be the rightful high-priest. 

Was he prompted to such an undertaking by piety 
or ambition ? The innermost workings of the heart 
are not revealed in history. To secure the approval 
of the Judseans, Onias referred to a prophecy of 
Isaiah xix. 1 9, " On that day there will be an altar to 
the Lord in Egypt.' 7 Philometor, to whom he ex- 
pressed his wish, out of gratitude for his military 
services, presented him with a tract of land in the re- 
gion of Heliopolis, four and a-half geographical miles 
north-east of Memphis, in the land of Goshen, where 
the descendants of Jacob had once lived until the 
exodus from Egypt. In the small town of Leonto- 
polis, on the ruins of a heathen temple, where 
animals had formerly been worshipped, Onias built 
the Judsean sanctuary (154-152). Outwardly, it did 
not exactly resemble the Temple of Jerusalem, for it 
was made of brick, and it rose in the shape of a tower. 
But all the necessary appliances in the interior were 
on the exact model of those in Jerusalem, except 
that the seven-armed candlestick was replaced by a 
golden lamp hanging from a golden chain. Priests 
and Levites who had fled from the persecutions in 
Judsea, officiated in this Temple of Onias. The king 
generously decreed that the revenues of the whole 
district of Heliopolis should be devoted to the needs 
of the Temple and the priests. This small province 
was formed into a little priestly state, and was called 


Although the community looked upon the Temple 
of Onias as their religious centre, visiting it during 
the festivals, and sacrificing in its courts, still, unlike 
the Samaritans, they did not withdraw their allegiance 
from the sanctuary of Jerusalem, or in any way depre- 
ciate it; on the contrary, they venerated Jerusal